Japan digs out as snow continues to fall
Stars and Stripes January 13, 2010
MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — Most U.S. military bases in Japan should be spared from major snowstorms expected across the country through Thursday night, according to weather officials.
The Japan Meteorological Agency released weather alerts Wednesday, warning that as much as 31 inches of snow is expected in the Hokuriku region, west of Tokyo.
However, the greater Tokyo area — home to four major U.S. military bases — shouldn’t see any snow, a JMA official said late Wednesday.
There is more snow on the horizon for Sasebo Naval Base, on the southern island of Kyushu, and Misawa Air Base, on the northern tip of the main island of Honshu.
Misawa will be spared the big storms but will still see about 3 inches of snow daily through Saturday, according to David Driskell, a meteorologist with the 35th Operations Support Squadron’s weather flight.
Driskell said temperatures are going to drop, and Misawa residents can expect the thermometer to read somewhere between 20 and 32 degrees Fahrenheit daily, thanks mainly to winds coming from the northwest, out of Siberia.
Japanese forecasters predicted Wednesday that Sasebo would be hit by 4 to 6 inches of snow by Thursday night.
Snow started falling at both Sasebo and Misawa on Tuesday and continued overnight, blanketing both bases early Wednesday morning.
Misawa — which sees an average of 125 inches of snow each winter — received 14.2 inches overnight Tuesday. With snow continuing to fall Wednesday morning, officials delayed school by two hours and allowed non-mission-essential employees to come to work two hours later than scheduled.
Snow warnings were being broadcast on the American Forces Network radio and TV channels.
Sasebo received between 5 and 6 inches overnight Tuesday. Schools were closed for the day, and only emergency and essential personnel were required to report for work, base spokesman Charles Howard said.
The base will maintain updates on the snow situation on its Facebook site and Twitter feeds, which are linked to the base Web site, www.cnic.navy.mil/Sasebo/index.htm, Howard said. Residents can also call the Command Care Line at 252-3034 or off base at 0956-50-3034.
Howard said the base would continue to monitor weather conditions and update the community on any closures for Thursday.
The snows have already affected travelers, with Japan Airlines canceling 36 flights — leaving 2,270 passengers stranded as of Wednesday afternoon. A company spokeswoman said most of those flights were at Nagasaki.
All Nippon Airways also canceled 29 flights Wednesday morning, a company spokeswoman said. Officials could not be reached for comment late Wednesday afternoon.
Several Japanese bullet train routes also were delayed or canceled Wednesday because of the snow.