Massive Snowstorm in Japan Traps Over 1,000 Cars Overnight in Nine-Mile Traffic Jam

Vehicles are shown stranded on the snow-covered Kanetsu Expressway / Kyodo News/Sipa USA

It started with a large vehicle that got stuck in the deepening snow. That minor incident grew into a monster snow-covered traffic jam as more than 1,000 cars became stranded on a highway that runs between Tokyo and the city of Niigata along the Sea of Japan coast.

The snarl began Wednesday night, local news sources reported.

“The snow was extremely heavy,” one driver told the public broadcaster NHK. “As time went by, the cars got buried. I was really scared. I’ve eaten all of my food and drinks. Now, to drink water, I have to melt snow I collect in a plastic bottle.”

Heavy snowfall in recent days, especially in the Niigata and Gunma prefectures, blanketed some areas with more than 6 feet of snow. NHK reported that these prefectures have seen seven times more snow than they typically do at this point at this time of year.

“I hardly slept, and I was worried because I had absolutely no information (about the situation),” a 48-year-old man, who had been driving to his home near Tokyo, told Kyodo News.