Heavy snow forecast to continue in wide areas

Kyodo News

Snow covered the city of Osaka on Friday for the first time since 2008, shutting down highways in Osaka Prefecture and Shikoku as the Meteorological Agency warned that snowfall through Saturday in wide areas of Japan could cause traffic disruptions and accidents.

Heavy snow was expected even in relatively dry flatlands on the Pacific side of the country, and after light snow Friday night, heavy falls were forecast for Saturday, the agency said.

In the Kinki region, snow starting falling Thursday night, including in lowlands. Osaka had 5 cm and Nara had 11 cm as of 1 p.m. Friday. Snow 5 cm deep was also observed in Takamatsu, Kagawa Prefecture.

Both directions on the Hanshin Expressway in Osaka Prefecture were closed Friday morning, while part of the Hanwa Expressway that links Osaka and Wakayama prefectures was also shut down.

Some highways in Shikoku were blocked starting Thursday night.

Train services on the JR Wakayama Line were temporarily suspended due to a snow-caused glitch at Takada Station in Nara Prefecture, while trains were canceled and delayed elsewhere in other parts of western Japan.

Snowfall 20 cm deep was forecast for the Chugoku region through 6 a.m. Saturday, 15 cm in the Kinki region and 10 cm in Shikoku.

Lightning and strong gusts were predicted for the Sea of Japan off the Sanin region, it said.