One dead, 900 hurt after heavy snowfall in Kanto-Koshin region

TOKYO —

Heavy snow that blanketed eastern Japan on Monday left one man dead and injured 900 others, as Tokyo commuters Tuesday took to the slippery streets.

A low-pressure system, dubbed a “bomb cyclone” by local press, dumped eight centimeters of snow in nine hours in Tokyo, the heaviest snowfall in the region since January 2006, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

It left 13 centimeters of snow in neighboring Yokohama, while mountainous areas around Tokyo saw up to 30 centimeters.

A 71-year-old man in Shiojiri city, Nagano Prefecture, died after falling into an open drain as he cleared snow around his house, a fire service spokesman said.

National broadcaster NHK said at least 891 injuries had been recorded in Tokyo and the area around it, many of them elderly people who had slipped on snow-covered streets or motorists involved in accidents.

Major train services resumed operations in Tokyo, although many sections of road remained closed while crews cleared frozen snow.

All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines cancelled a combined total of 37 domestic flights while dozens of other flights experienced delays.

International operations were not severely affected by the snow, the airlines said.

On Monday, Japanese airlines cancelled more than 460 domestic flights, mainly to or from Tokyo’s Haneda airport, where runways were temporarily closed as workers removed snow.

Around 3,400 people spent the night at Tokyo’s Narita airport on Monday, a spokesman said after train services running to the outlying facility were suspended.

They returned to normal on Tuesday, he added.

(2012) AFP

  • -5

    my2sense

    Unreal. 8 INCHES I can see but this... wtf?

  • 0

    Hippari

    Wow- I flew out of Narita on Sunday evening, and it was really warm that day. Couldn't imagine travelers being snowed in the next night!

  • -1

    electric2004

    On the weekend it was nice weather, so I went to indoor ice skating with my older 2 kids in Ibaraki on Sundat. Some slipping, but no damage. Then on Monday it was better to stay at home.

  • -15

    gjn48kawaii

    Learn to handle snow Tokyo!

  • -6

    basroil

    40cm of snow up here in Hokkaido is a normal snowstorm, trains run just fine and chitose is limited only by visibility regulations with runways clear. I think they should have called up the guys in Sapporo/Chitose to see about how to clean up the snow.

  • -4

    whiskeysour

    It's a good idea to slow down or stay where you are.

    Saitama bad drivers - I bet they were driving to fast.

    It's funny when I see bicyclists ride on the snow and ice. it's funny to watch them fall down.

  • 0

    gogogo

    No snow removal anything in Tokyo

  • -1

    waltery

    I see so many people slip over near the station I wonder why councils - JR isn't doing more to prevent this with salt and shovels. Also planing, there are traffic lights on the hill cross roads and no snow was cleared as the ice built up cars stoped crashed one after another for several hours. Good business for panelbeaters

  • -2

    Jaymann

    this reminds of the 3 years I spent up in Tohoku. Every year Kanto would have a little snow fall like this and the region would descend into chaos.... Meanwhile, those living in Tohoku deal with it day in and day out.

  • -1

    Disillusioned

    I nearly got hit by some clown getting his car sideways in the snow this morning. Slow the %$#& down people!

  • -1

    TokyoGas

    Because of the relatively nice weather in Tokyo, Narita Airport only has two deicing machines. You can imagine the delays on that snowy night. McD's was doing a lot of business serving passengers on delayed/cancelled flights.

  • 0

    gogogo

    bomb cyclone

    How technical

  • 0

    konjo4u

    Low pressure cell. Please dress warm.

  • 5

    Thunderbird2

    It's funny when I see bicyclists ride on the snow and ice. it's funny to watch them fall down.

    Nice... hope you never suffer an accident, or you may find people laughing at you!

  • -2

    bjones

    Seriously, I had bicyclists riding in the groove where cars have made a track in the snow and travelling in the wrong direction expecting me to move way over into the other lane. They were no where near the curb. I even saw one pedestrian walking in the tire track because the sidewalk still had snow. Just like Fukushima plant disaster; if instructions are not in a manual or taught in school they can't deal with it.

  • 1

    Nessie

    Seriously, I had bicyclists riding in the groove where cars have made a track in the snow and travelling in the wrong direction expecting me to move way over into the other lane.

    As a cyclist, I side with you and deplore cyclists who do things like this. Although it's not an excuse, trhe fact is, there's nowhere to go. I saw a wheelchair user the other day tooling down a three-lane street in the carriageway into oncoming traffic. The sidewalk was simply impassable, and shoulder-high snowpiles obscured the view. I asked if he needed a hand, but he waved me off and continued into oncoming traffic.

  • 0

    Cortes Elijah

    I ride in the ice and no problem. I love the snow here wish it happened more.

  • -2

    basroil

    walteryJan. 15, 2013 - 01:42PM JST

    I see so many people slip over near the station I wonder why councils - JR isn't doing more to prevent this with salt and shovels.

    Salt is a horrible idea unless you're able to clear all the melt before it turns to far more dangerous ice. Sand (with a tiny bit of salt) is a far better idea, they have a bag at most intersections here in Sapporo, bit more messy later on, but far more effective at preventing slips and falls. And I doubt the tokyo waste water treatment system is set up to receive that much salt either, could cause major issues later on.

  • 1

    Thunderbird2

    Salt is a horrible idea unless you're able to clear all the melt before it turns to far more dangerous ice. Sand (with a tiny bit of salt) is a far better idea, they have a bag at most intersections here in Sapporo, bit more messy later on, but far more effective at preventing slips and falls. And I doubt the tokyo waste water treatment system is set up to receive that much salt either, could cause major issues later on.

    We use rock salt and grit here in the UK... no health concerns about it have ever surfaced.

    As for walking or cycling in car tracks... I know that I walk in the tracks when we have a lot of snow in Glasgow.

  • 3

    Jessica Lysenko

    This type of snow is not very common, I would think (with limited knowledge of course) that setting up the infrastructure for this would be very very very expensive, especially considering it would be a 1-2 day event a year at most.

    In the west there may not be a concept of helping others or making concessions at any time, but in times like the past couple of days I have seen many people putting in work to help those around them such as clearing footpaths, driving around cyclists who are stuck in the tyre groove (god forbid!) and so on. Was a time for me to further appreciate the kindness and community feel you get in Japan. Things could have been done better, but compared to where I'm from (Sydney) they have done an amazing job IMO.

  • -1

    Serrano

    Every building owner should have the sidewalks in front of their buildings cleared of snow & ice.

  • 0

    cwhite

    work from home for a day or two, it's better than risking your life or breaking a bone or two

  • 0

    Open Minded

    Having lived in Montreal and Switzerland, I wonder if Japan really knows how to measure snowfall. In Shibuya, around 4 PM, we had definitely at least a measurable 20 cm. But it became wet and dumped, while still snowing. Actually, I would not be surprised if we got 30 cm + according to other measurement standards, i.e. fresh snow accumulation vs. actual measurements. If somebody knows I would be interested.

  • 2

    Open Minded

    Malfupete: can the houses in Newfoundland resist an M 5.0 earthquake? Obviously not and there is no reason for that. Every place has its own priority in crisis management. And Tokyo experienced a local unusual heavy snow, like Newfoundland would experience an M 3.0 earthquake.

  • 2

    Eleanor Goldsmith

    this reminds of the 3 years I spent up in Tohoku. Every year Kanto would have a little snow fall like this and the region would descend into chaos.... Meanwhile, those living in Tohoku deal with it day in and day out.

    Same in Niigata, though there were the inevitable deaths due to falling off a roof while clearing heavy snow off it.

    On New Year's Eve 2004 we were driving down to Kyoto, having first driven from Niigata to Yokohama to visit a friend. It started to snow soon after we set off from Yokohama at lunchtime and they closed the expressway from one exit after the one at which we'd got on, all the way to Numazu in Shizuoka Prefecture. It was a comparatively small amount of snow and we were having no problems driving in it, because we had our snow tyres on (we did feel a little smug about that), but it took an hour just to get off the expressway onto the main road because all the Kanto drivers were sliding around on their normal tyres. We ended up seeing the New Year in with a can of Coke at a parking area just outside Nagoya and decided to spend the night at a hotel in Nagoya because it was still so far to Kyoto.

    Anyway, I digress. I would imagine that, for the population and authorities of Kanto, only having snow about once a year (and 8cm being the heaviest snow in 7 years) makes them feel that it wouldn't be economical to take measures to deal with it "just in case".

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