The snow falling in Hama-rikyu Gardens in Tokyo. Snowstorm brings delays to planes, trains and automobiles. Photo courtesy: TAK1701D/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS.
TOKYO — The hustle and bustle of Tokyo was halted by a rare snowstorm on Monday, Jan. 22, 2018.
The storm brought cancellations to flights, delays to trains and buses as well as highway and road closures, as snow fell throughout the day. This was the worst snowstorm in Tokyo since February 2014, says Japan Times.
The snowstorm began on the morning of Monday and by 7 p.m., 16 cm (6.3 inches) had accumulated in central Tokyo. When the snow stopped falling in the early hours of Tuesday, 23 cm (9 inches) of snow had blanketed the city.
While many places in Canada see more snow than this regularly, (areas in Manitoba are bracing for 10-20 cm this week alone) this kind of storm is unusual in Tokyo, and is enough to slow down the city.
Tokyo does see snow, usually at least once a year, but the snow rarely stays on the ground, melting quickly after it falls.
“It’s rare to have sub-zero temperatures for a few days in the Tokyo area, and that would freeze the snow,” agency official Kenji Okada said. “In the past, we have seen a lot of injuries caused by slipping and falling. Simply walking can be dangerous.”
The storm left nine thousand people stranded overnight in Narita airport. There were 2,800 people stranded in Haneda’s international terminal, four times its regular capacity, as around 250 flights were cancelled.
The “Yurikamome” train was unable to make it up a slope in the snow, leaving 200 passengers no choice but having to evacuate the train cars.
On the roads, 50 cars got stuck on the “Rainbow Bridge” on Tokyo’s waterfront and 740 traffic accidents were reported, according to NHK.
Traffic jams from the heavy snow trapped some cars in a tunnel for up to 10 hours, forcing some people to have to leave their vehicles.
The Fire and Disaster Management Agency reported 360 people were injured due to slippery conditions in Tokyo and the surrounding prefectures (Ibaraki, Tochigi, Saitama, Gunma, Chiba and Kanagawa).
This is not the first time this year an irregular snowstorm has halted parts of Japan. Just two weeks earlier in the city of Sanjo, 430 passengers endured an uncomfortable night after a East Japan Railway train got stuck in the snow.
The Shinetsu Line in Niigata prefecture was filled to standing room only, and was stranded in the snow for 15 hours before it could be rescued. Luckily the train was heated and had washrooms. Passengers were advised to stay on the train for safety reasons.
While the snowstorm created great inconveniences for many commuters in Tokyo, the snow attracted the creative minds of some citizens who posted photos of their masterful snow sculptures online.
— 【公式】プロジェクトイーブイ (@project_eevee) January 22, 2018