Weather chaos across the globe: Heavy snowfall paralyzes Japan

February 1, 2011JAPAN – “Heavy snow has wreaked havoc on transportation in areas along the Sea of Japan coast of central Honshu. The Imajo district of Minami-Echizen, Fukui Prefecture, saw a record 236 centimeters of snow as of 7 a.m. on Jan. 31, the Fukui Local Meteorological Observatory said. Services on the Hokuriku Line and other JR lines in the Hokuriku region have been suspended because of heavy snow since the night of Jan. 30. Seven limited express trains as well as local trains came to a halt mainly at stations on the Hokuriku Line, such as Tsuruga and Fukui, since around 9 p.m. on Jan. 30, according to the Kanazawa branch of West Japan Railway Co. (JR West). A winter snowstorm dumped more snow on to the Sea of Japan coastline, local authorities closed sections of major roads and highways in Fukui prefecture. The fresh snowfall pushed the snow accumulation to 64 centimetres in Kanazawa and to 118 centimetres in Fukui, surpassing 100 centimetres for the first time in 25 years, the Japan Meteorological Agency said. Hundreds of vehicles were halted near Tsuruga Tunnel on National Route No. 8 situated between Tsuruga and Minami-Echizen, causing a 10-kilometer traffic snarl, according to the local branch of the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry.” –Manichi Daily News
Canada– A major storm is expected to hit southern Ontario late Tuesday, bringing up to 30 centimetres of snow in some parts and strong winds. That system will bring periods of light snow to southwestern Ontario overnight Monday, she said. Winds will produce blowing snow and reduced visibility. Environment Canada on Monday morning upgraded a special weather statement to a winter storm watch. “The heavy snowfall and blowing snow will cause whiteout conditions making for extremely hazardous driving conditions. This storm has the potential to create near-paralyzing conditions.” The agency said that 20 to 30 centimetres of snow could accumulate in areas stretching from Windsor in the west to Brockville in the east by Wednesday afternoon, after which the storm is expected to taper off. “It’s possible it could be the most snow we’ve seen in a storm so far this year, at least for regions outside the snowbelt,” said Environment Canada meteorologist Ria Alsen. –
Chicago (U.S.) – Light snow is expected to begin falling Monday night, but the heavy snowfall will begin falling midday Tuesday and through Wednesday afternoon. Meteorologists predict the blizzard will produce whiteout conditions as 40 to 45 mph winds combine with snow falling at a pace of 2 to 4 inches per hour during portions of the storm, Nelson said. A blizzard and ice storm is expected to cripple half of the country over the next 48 hours. Winter snow warnings have been issued in 22 states.
China – Drought prevails across much of China. In China’s capital, they are having the exact opposite problem. The state news agency Xin Hua is reporting that after 83 snowless days into winter, this is the longest dry spell since they started keeping records in 1951. –NPR
BolivaLa Paz – Flooding in Bolivia has cost at least 22 people their lives, with at least six others missing in the province of Chuquisaca, police chief Iver Marquez said Monday. A truck and a bus were swept away by the Molle Punku River in a remote area some 30 kilometres from provincial capital Sucre on Friday. Only the younger passengers were able to escape. The normally dry river has been overflowing to due to heavy rain. –M&C 
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