Flights, train services resume in Japan's snow-hit Sapporo

Cars outside Sapporo's New Chitose Airport lie covered in snow, on Dec 12, 2016.
Cars outside Sapporo's New Chitose Airport lie covered in snow, on Dec 12, 2016. PHOTO: JASON GOH

TOKYO - Domestic and international flights out of Sapporo's New Chitose Airport, as well as local train and tram services, have resumed as of Monday (Dec 12).

This comes as the worst of the bad weather that grounded hundreds of flights and train services in Hokkaido over the weekend has passed, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.

Its seven-day forecast ending this Sunday (Dec 19) said that light snow will still be expected on Japan's northern island, but not to the extent of the heavy snowfall that pummelled the island's capital of Sapporo over the weekend.

The city was blanketed in 65cm of snow by 3pm last Saturday, which was the heaviest snowfall recorded in early December in almost 30 years.

The last time such heavy snowfall occurred in this period was in 1987, when snow accumulation reached 68cm.

The snowy city of Sapporo is a popular tourist destination for Singaporeans, and almost 200 Singapore Airlines (SIA) passengers were left stranded at the airport over the weekend as heavy snow closed runways and cancelled flights.

 

Most of them made it back to Singapore early Monday morning, having spent Saturday night sleeping on the cold airport floor with the surrounding hotels fully booked.

The weather agency had issued heavy snow warnings on Saturday for parts of Hokkaido, including Sapporo, on top of avalanche advisories in some regions.

The bad weather persisted on Sunday, with snow cover as of 7pm recorded at 58cm in Sapporo, according to the Sapporo District Meteorological Observatory.

Japanese daily Yomiuri Shimbun reported that a total of 252 flights were cancelled on Saturday - and another 162 on Sunday - at the New Chitose Airport.

JR Hokkaido also said that some 192 train runs were suspended on Saturday, and another 56 on Sunday.