Heavy snowfall hits Japan

Japanese meteorologists are warning of possible traffic disruptions and power outages as heavy snow continues to fall mostly along the coast of the Sea of Japan.

The meteorological agency says the snowfall is intensifying Saturday due to strong atmospheric pressure and the formation of a cold air mass.

Snow also continues to accumulate. As of 11 a.m., up to 63 centimeters of snow had fallen in Minakami City of Gunma Prefecture, 55 centimeters in Shinano City of Nagano Prefecture and 52 centimeters in Sapporo City of Hokkaido.

The snowfall is expected to peak in the afternoon. However, intermittent snow is forecast in areas facing the Sea of Japan through Sunday.

Up to 60 centimeters of snow in Hokkaido, 50 centimeters in Niigata Prefecture, 40 centimeters in Tohoku, Kansai and Gifu Prefectures, 35 centimeters in Hokuriku and 30 centimeters in Kanto-Koshinesu and Chugoku regions are expected to fall during the 24 hours through Sunday morning.

Strong winds are also expected to continue hitting northern Japan. Meteorologists are warning of possible severe squalls.

The heavy snowfall forced Japanese airlines to cancel 14 domestic flights as of 4 a.m. Saturday.

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