Rare snow, heaviest since 2014 brings Tokyo to a standstill

A rare heavy snowfall hit Japanese capital Tokyo on Monday, January 22, 2018, causing around 700 traffic accident, stranding more than 9 000 travelers and leaving more than 180 people injured.

The snowfall began during the morning hours (local time) of January 22, causing severe traffic problems. The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) issued a warning to all of Tokyo’s 23 wards at around 14:30 local time, making it the first official heavy snow warning since February 2014.

Parts of expressways around the capital were closed, about 50 vehicles stranded on Tokyo’s iconic Rainbow Bridge as many of them couldn’t climb up the slope, NHK reports. The Sankei Shimbun said the bridge had been closed due to car accidents caused by the snow, leaving as many as 300 cars in gridlock.

Cars were also trapped in a tunnel, causing a 10 km (6.2 miles) long tailback from Monday evening through early Tuesday morning.

Officials said around 700 traffic accidents occurred before the day’s end and more than 180 people injured, including those that got hurt after falling.

Over 9 000 people were stranded overnight Tuesday at Narita airport, as hundreds of domestic and international flights in and out of Tokyo were canceled.

Some parts of the capital received as much as 23 cm (9.2 inches) of snow, JMA said, making it the heaviest snowfall since February 2014.

Tuesday morning temperatures in Tokyo were below freezing and expected to reach as low as -6 °C (21.2 °F) on Wednesday, January 24.

A JMA official Kenji Okada told AFP that it’s rare to have sub-zero temperatures for a few days in the Tokyo area, warning that will freeze the snow, making traffic even more dangerous.

Featured image: Heavy snow blankets Tokyo, Japan on Monday, January 22, 2018. Credit: Japan BackpackersXpress

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