Heavy snow hit the Sea of Japan coast from the Tohoku to Kyushu regions Sunday, disrupting transportation and prompting authorities to urge people to stay indoors.

The Meteorological Agency predicts snow and blizzard conditions will continue until Tuesday, with up to 90 centimeters of snow projected to fall in some regions.

Television footage Sunday showed heavy blizzard conditions in Aomori and Niigata prefectures, as well as parts of Ishikawa, Toyama, and Fukui prefectures on the Sea of Japan coast. Snow also fell in Tokyo for the first time this year, as well as in Nagoya and Hiroshima.

The weather, including snow squalls and heavy winds at times, played havoc with road, rail and air transportation. Train service was canceled on sections of the Uetsu Main Line, which runs up the Sea of Japan coast through Niigata, Yamagata, and Akita prefectures; the Joetsu Line in Gunma and Niigata prefectures; the Oito Line in Niigata and Nagano prefectures; as well as parts of the Sanin Main Line along the Sea of Japan coast from Kyoto to Yamaguchi prefectures.

As of noon Sunday, residents in areas expecting heavy snowfall were being asked to avoid nonessential outings. The heavy snowfall was already creating havoc, including hazardous road conditions. A 6 kilometer stretch of road in Shiga Prefecture, near the border with Fukui and north of Kyoto, was shut down Sunday morning after a snow-related accident.

A snow covered truck in the city of Fukui on Sunday | FUJI IWAMI
A snow covered truck in the city of Fukui on Sunday | FUJI IWAMI

In addition, delays were reported for the Tokaido and Sanyo bullet train lines. Many domestic flights, especially to airports in prefectures affected by the heavy snow, were canceled. As of 11 a.m. Sunday, at least 35 Japan Airlines flights and 69 All Nippon Airways flights had been canceled. The airlines warned those numbers could increase as more heavy snowfall is expected Monday and early Tuesday.

Avalanche warnings have been issued for some areas.

By 6 a.m. Monday, the weather agency was forecasting up to 90 centimeters of snow for the Hokuriku region and 80 centimeters for the Chugoku region. Seventy centimeters was predicted to fall in the Tohoku region and 60 centimeters in the Kanto-Koshin eastern to central regions. Hokkaido and the Tokai region was expected to get up to 40 centimeters.

The forecast also called for 20 centimeters of snow in western Shikoku and the northern part of Kyushu, while southern Kyushu could see up to 10 centimeters.

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