Photo/IllutrationHeavy snow brings traffic to a standstill on National Route No. 8 in Sakai, Fukui Prefecture, early Feb. 7. (Part of the image is deliberately blurred for privacy reasons.) (Ryo Kato)

  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion

Hundreds of motorists spent the night of Feb. 6 stranded in their vehicles after heavy snow made routes impassable in Fukui and Ishikawa prefectures.

Appalling weather conditions continued to plague the Hokuriku region Feb. 7, adding to traffic problems on National Route No. 8 and other roads.

The Japan Meteorological Agency said the accumulation of snow in some areas was a record, and warned that anyone going outside should exercise extreme care.

Fukui recorded snow piling up to a depth of 140 centimeters as of noon on Feb. 7 while Kanazawa in Ishikawa Prefecture had 77 cm and Toyama, 67 cm, according to the agency.

An extremely cold air front with snow clouds across the Hokuriku region is to blame for the weather conditions.

An additional 40 to 50 cm of snow is forecast to accumulate in the 24-hour period to the morning of Feb. 8.

The agency warned residents to be aware of the danger of frozen road surfaces and snow sliding off the roofs of homes.

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism said 1,400 cars and trucks were stuck along a 20-kilometer stretch of National Route No. 8. between Kaga, Ishikawa Prefecture, and Sakai, Fukui Prefecture, as of 10 p.m. on Feb. 6.

With a 10-km section of the road closed to traffic, Ground Self-Defense Force personnel were brought in to dig out entombed vehicles through the night so, one by one, they could be moved.

It remained unclear how long the operation will take.

Two men who had been stranded were rushed to a hospital after complaining of fever and other physical problems, according to the Fukui prefectural headquarters for disaster countermeasures.