Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido was hit by heavy snowfall and strong winds starting on Tuesday, leaving many without power in blizzard-like conditions. The Japan Meteorological Agency says the island’s Pacific coast was the location of a low-pressure system, resulting in temperatures as cold as negative 5.7 degrees celsius (21.7 degrees fahrenheit), the lowest temperature recorded in the country this year.
Hokkaido Electric Power Co. reports that it is scrambling to return power to the 41,000 homes that spent the night without electricity. That number peaked even higher, at 56,000 homes, throughout Tuesday. There were a few injuries reported, although very minor, such as a police officer getting trapped under a thin roof that was blown down by strong winds, and two others who were knocked to the ground. 290 people without heating equipment were moved to evacuation shelters in Noboribetsu.
The Meteorological Agency says winds reached a maximum speed of 151.5 km/h (94 mph), and warned that Wednesday could see snowfall as high as 40 centimeters (15.7 inches) in coastal areas. Hokkaido transportation was also affected by the storm, with 31 flights being canceled to and from the Shin-Chitose Airport, and fallen trees blocking many roads and train routes. At least 73 schools were closed on Tuesday, with more expected on Wednesday.