The strongest cold snap of the season so far has brought heavy snow to Sea of Japan coastal areas of Japan. Record-level freezing temperatures were observed in much of the country on Wednesday morning.
Weather officials warn snowstorms will likely continue mainly on the Sea of Japan coast of northern Japan and extremely low temperatures are expected on Thursday morning.
The Japan Meteorological Agency says an intensified winter pressure pattern has caused an influx of the coldest air mass of the season over Japan. The frigid weather has brought heavy snowfall, mainly to areas along the Sea of Japan coast from western to northern Japan.
In the 24 hours through 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Hiruzen in the city of Maniwa in Okayama Prefecture had 66 centimeters of snow and Daisen in Tottori Prefecture had 61 centimeters.
Snow accumulated even in areas that normally have little snow, including the cities of Kyoto, Tsu, Hiroshima and Kagoshima.
Temperatures dropped to the lowest-level in a decade across the country.
The town of Kosa in Kumamoto Prefecture observed a record low temperature in the town of minus 9 degrees Celsius.
The winter pressure pattern is expected to ease gradually from the west, but localized heavy snow and blizzards will likely continue through Thursday, mainly on Sea of Japan coastal areas of northern Japan.
Snowfall in the 24 hours through Thursday evening is expected to be up to 60 centimeters in Hokkaido and Niigata prefectures, up to 50 centimeters in the Tohoku region, and up to 20 centimeters in the Kanto-Koshin and Tokai regions.
Strong winds accompanied by snow are expected to continue in northern Japan, which will likely cause rough seas.
Through Thursday, wind speeds of up to 90 kilometers per hour are expected in Hokkaido and up to 72 kilometers in Tohoku. A maximum instantaneous wind speed of up to 126 kilometers is expected in these areas.
Freezing temperatures are expected to continue through Thursday.
A low of minus 12 degrees is forecast for Nagano City, minus 10 degrees for Sapporo, and minus 5 degrees for the cities of Sendai, Okayama and Kumamoto.
Kyoto and Kochi can expect a low of minus 4 degrees, central Tokyo and Nagoya minus 3 degrees, and Fukuoka and Miyazaki minus 2 degrees.
Weather officials are calling on people to be prepared for more heavy snow, snowstorms and possible disruption to transportation, as well as violent winds and high sea waves. They are also warning that water pipes could freeze.