Japan slammed by rare and deadly snowstorm

Eleven are dead and thousands injured in what's being called the worst blizzard in nearly half a century

Topics: snowstorm, Extreme weather, Japan, ,

Tokyo hasn’t seen anything like this is nearly 45 years: as much as 10.6 inches of snow dumped on a city more accustomed to getting just 4 inches over the course of an entire winter.

At least 11 people have been killed in snow-related accidents, Reuters reports, mostly due to drivers losing control and crashing. At least 1,253 others, meanwhile, have been injured, many from slipping and falling while attempting to shovel the snow off their roofs. Tens of thousands were without power Sunday, and travel delays from canceled flights continued into Monday morning.

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On Sunday, the storm moved north to Japan’s Pacific coast, hitting areas damaged in the 2011 tsunami. In the northeastern city of Sendai, 13.8 inches fell — a 78-year record — while nearby Ishinomaki, where many still live in temporary housing, saw its heaviest snow in 91 years. Fukushima, the site of Japan’s damaged nuclear reactor, got 17.3 inches. 

Despite the rough conditions, financial markets managed to open on a normal schedule Monday morning. But the storm had a significant political impact: Voter turnout for Tokyo’s gubernatorial election Sunday was down 62.6 percent.

 

Lindsay Abrams

Lindsay Abrams is a staff writer at Salon, reporting on all things sustainable. Follow her on Twitter @readingirl, email labrams@salon.com.

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