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Severe snowstorms are hitting northern and western Japan

A winter storm is bringing heavy snow to some parts of northern to western Japan on the Sea of Japan side on Thursday. Snowfall may accumulate rapidly overnight, creating potentially hazardous conditions for motorists. The Japan Meteorological Agency said that during the three-hour period through 5 p.m. on Thursday, around 25 centimeters of snow had been recorded at mountainous locations in Nagano Prefecture and Niigata Prefecture. Over the 24-hour period through late Friday afternoon, up to 80 centimeters of snow is forecast for Niigata and Gunma Prefectures, up to 70 centimeters for the Hokuriku region, and up to 60 centimeters for Nagano Prefecture, Gifu Prefecture and the Kansai region. The Agency is warning that fierce winds could create blinding blizzard conditions in northern Japan, making driving almost impossible.