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Avalanche warnings and travel disruptions as cold wave grips Japan

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A cold air system brought much snow to broad swathes of Japan on Wednesday with weather authorities warning of avalanches, icy roads and traffic disruptions.

More than 150 centimetres of snow had fallen in the town of Minakami, north of Tokyo, in the last 48 hours until Wednesday morning, while Yuzawa town in Niigata prefecture had seen some 130 centimetres of snow, the Meteorological Agency said.

Heavy snow caused the cancellation of a total of 81 train services on the northern island of Hokkaido, according to the local Hokkaido Shimbun newspaper.

Temperatures dropped to minus 20.1 degrees Celsius in the city of Furano in the morning and to minus 10.5 degrees Celsius in Hakodate city, the paper said.

The agency expects heavy snow to continue to blanket Hokkaido and the Sea of Japan coastline until Thursday.
The Hokuriku region is expected to see up to 100 centimetres of snow in the 24 hours until Thursday morning and up to 40 centimetres of snow is forecast for Hokkaido, according to the agency.