Some parts of Japan have received heavy and accumulating snow. Last week many areas in the north received snow, followed by a slight warming, which has allowed the top layer to melt slightly before freezing again. On top of this icy layer, known in Japan as corn snow (due to it’s micro scopic shape), fresh snow created yet another layer. Concern is for a number of points.
- The corn-snow layer allows for surface avalanches
- Avalanches and surface avalanches can be triggered by earthquakes
- Snow sliding off roofs can kill people under them. A meter of snow can weigh upto 500kg (1/2 ton).
- Snow clearing with snow ploughs have killed pedestrians
- Snow clearing off roofs have accounted for about 75% of deaths. Most deaths involve people aged 60 and over. Most deaths are as a result of falls, heart attacks, or falls with snow burials.
- Solar panels on roofs have also contributed, as normal roofs have stoppers that hold snow in place, or slow the rate of fall. However, solar panels were not designed with this consideration, and often sit above snow stoppers, thus with the smooth surface are more dangerous than a regular roof (see the picture below).
- Finally, some houses this week have collapsed under the weight of snow on their roofs. So far, some areas have more than 3 meters of accumulated snow.
Below are file pictures relating to the extreme weather.