Snowstorm in Tokyo disrupts road, rail and air transport

Snowstorm in Tokyo disrupts road, rail and air transport

Tokyo snow
A rare snowstorm hit Tokyo on Monday (Jan 22), with up to 10cm of snow expected. (Photo: Jeremy Hou)

TOKYO: The heaviest snowstorm in four years hit Tokyo on Monday (Jan 22), snarling train services, forcing the cancellation of scores of flights and prompting hordes of workaholic Japanese to heed official advice to head home early.

Snow began falling in the morning and by 9pm, as much as 20cm had fallen in central Tokyo.

tokyo snow
Cars covered in snow in a Tokyo district. (Photo: Jeremy Hou)

Train services were curtailed and some highways were closed, as icy roads were causing traffic accidents. Around 250 flights from Tokyo's Haneda airport were cancelled.

A looming low pressure system and cold front just off the coast of the Japanese main island of Honshu was expected to bring low temperatures and more snow throughout the day and night, the Japanese Meteorological Agency said.

tokyo snow
People wait in a queue for taxis at Akihabara station during a snowfall in Tokyo on Jan 22, 2018. (Photo: AFP/Behrouz MEHRI)

The Japanese capital, which is on roughly the same latitude as the US city of Raleigh, North Carolina, often sees snow at least once a year, but this time it is expected to accumulate, rather than quickly melt as it usually does.

The government issued heavy snow warnings for the area around the capital, just two weeks after hundreds of people were trapped overnight in a train in northern Japan due to heavy snow.

NHK national broadcaster issued detailed recommendations for coping with the weather, including wearing boots with heavy treads, heading home early and not walking with hands in coat pockets in case of slips and falls.

Trains to the suburbs were packed full by the unusually early hour of 4pm and long lines formed at supermarkets.

NHK reported that universities had postponed entrance exams due to have been held on Tuesday morning.

tokyo snow temple
A man walks on a street during a snowfall in Tokyo on Jan 22, 2018. (Photo: AFP/Behrouz MEHRI)

A disaster management centre in the prime minister's office was collating information on the situation.

"We will respond to this based on various scenarios," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference. "We call on all citizens to keep informed about the latest conditions and beware of transport delays."

Source: Reuters/zl