The heaviest snow in nine years fell in the northern Kyushu area Thursday, disrupting traffic services and causing road accidents, police reported.
Heavy snow that blanketed a wide area along the Sea of Japan coast and western Japan over the past two days has passed its peak, as the season’s coldest air mass moved to the east of the Japanese archipelago Thursday morning, the Meteorological Agency said.
Fukuoka observed a rare accumulation of 14 cm by Thursday morning, meteorological officials said. Snow slowed road and train traffic Thursday, inconveniencing about 400,000 commuters. Sections of expressways across the nation were closed because of the snow.
As Wednesday’s snowfall caused major delays on the Tokaido Shinkansen Line, 186 passengers on the day’s last trains slept inside the trains at Tokyo and Shin-Osaka stations after they missed transfers to other trains.
In the Kansai region, Kyoto recorded snowfall of 8 cm in the morning, disrupting commuters and students who were to sit for college entrance examinations in the morning. The temperature dropped to minus 4.5 in the ancient capital, the season’s lowest.
Sanyo Shinkansen bullet train runs between Shin-Osaka in Osaka and Hakata in Fukuoka scheduled for the morning were delayed by up to 30 minutes, according to JR West Japan officials. Local weather officials said the peak of the snowfall was over but called for continued caution.
In Osaka, snowfall that started at about 7 p.m. Wednesday stopped shortly before 11 p.m. According to Fukuoka Prefectural Police, the snowfall forced the closure of parts of the Kyushu Expressway while whole sections of the Fukuoka Municipal Speedway and Kita Kyushu Highway were closed, forcing cancellations of highway bus services involving Fukuoka and other northern Kyushu cities.
Three people were reportedly injured in a pileup of 10 vehicles on a slippery prefectural highway in Kitakyushu’s Kokura Ward shortly after 5 a.m. In the accident, a truck skidded and ran into a median strip and following sedans and trucks plowed into it.