41,000 Hokkaido homes lose power

Kyodo

Strong winds and blizzard conditions knocked out electricity for around 41,000 households in southern Hokkaido early Tuesday as a large low-pressure system hit the area, Hokkaido Electric Power Co. and the Meteorological Agency said.

The storm left at least three people injured, according to police.

A police officer was trapped under a tin roof blown down by strong winds in the town of Shinhidaka, while wind knocked two people down in other towns.

The blackout and fallen trees affected transportation, halting 94 train runs and at least 31 flights to and from Shin-Chitose Airport, according to JR Hokkaido and airlines.

At least 73 elementary and junior high schools were closed due to the bad weather.

Winds hit a maximum 151.56 kph on Cape Erimo facing the Pacific, and gusts of 142.92 kph were clocked in Muroran, the Meteorological Agency said, adding the low-pressure system was moving toward the Sea of Okhotsk.

Cumulative snowfall was expected to reach 40 cm in coastal areas of Hokkaido facing the Sea of Japan and 25 cm in areas facing the Pacific and the Sea of Okhotsk in the 24-hour period through noon Wednesday, the agency said.