Tokyo, Feb 1 (IANS) Japan's weather agency has warned of very strong, blustery winds and snowfall from Wednesday evening through Thursday in the northern regions, owing to seriously unstable atmospheric conditions.
According to the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), the regions most likely to be hit by the extreme wintry weather are those in the northeast and the northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido, reports Xinhua news agency.
The JMA said a developing low-pressure system over the Sea of Japan is causing strong winds and snow, and the system will develop rapidly, with warm and moist air hitting the low-pressure system leading to extremely volatile atmospheric conditions.
Such conditions, which could see heavy snow, blizzards caused by gale-force winds, and wave surges on coastlines, will be particularly pronounced along the Sea of Japan and in parts of the northeastern Tohoku region and Hokkaido, weather officials said.
These conditions will be exacerbated by powerful winds with maximum instantaneous speeds of up to 126 km per hour in Hokkaido and 108 km per hour on the Sea of Japan side of Tohoku through Thursday.
The weather agency has also forecast wave surges as high as 9 meters in coastal areas.
Officials have urged people in the affected areas to remain vigilant for potential weather-related incidents, such as frozen and icy roads and snow drifts causing traffic disruptions, blizzards affecting visibility, lightning strikes, and tornadoes, among others.
They have also urged drivers to avoid making non-essential journeys, including those on national highways, owing to possible traffic disruptions, as well as for passengers to check flight schedules for delays or cancellations of flights to or from the affected areas.
As for the risk of avalanches, weather officials said that as the temperature has risen from Tuesday to Wednesday in areas from northern to western Japan, the avalanche risk has increased, particularly on hills and mountains where the snow is deep and the surface level has begun or will begin to melt.
People living in low-lying areas below such hills and mountains have been urged to take the utmost caution and be particularly vigilant, the officials said.