17 Dec 2020 – In some places, snowdrifts have reached human height, up to 160 cm! (more than five feet!) Three to four times higher than usual for this time of year.
Locals say it never happened in their memory.
Japan deployed the military on Thursday (Dec 17) to help residents trapped by record snowfall that blanketed parts of the country, with 10,000 homes losing power in the north and west.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga called an emergency Cabinet meeting and urged the public to be cautious, as local media reported more than 1,000 cars were stranded on an expressway connecting Tokyo to Niigata in the north.
Such climatic conditions caused a real collapse on the roads. Stretches of roads up to 15 km were blocked. Not all drivers were able to immediately find their own cars under the thick of snow.
In addition, the roads are very slippery.
Snowstorms also caused disruptions to air traffic. More than 50 flights were canceled.
Over 72 hours, a record 2.17 metres of snow fell in Minakami, Gunma prefecture, reports said, while Yuzawa in Niigata prefecture – famous for skiing – got a record 1.8 metres of snow on Thursday morning.
Snow also fell in the temple city of Kyoto, producing images of delicate pagodas and famed shrines dusted with flakes that delighted social media.
Members of Japan’s Self-Defense Forces were delivering blankets and food to homes suffering blackouts, local officials said.
Tsuyoshi Watanabe, a Niigata disaster management official, told AFP he had asked for soldiers to help around 460 vehicles stranded on a highway.
Victims in the prefectures of Niigata and Akita sought medical attention.
More snow is expected for the region over the weekend.
Thanks to Martin Siebert for these links