3-131 [Whiteout killed some]: Furious blizzard killed some, but I doubted some of them were mobilized by the police for the operation

I saw the whiteout for the first time in my life on 2 March 2013, when I went to the ski site to borrow a gear for the first time in that year after coming to Hokkaido. The staff there told me not to ski as a blizzard should start within hours and better leave as soon as possible.

 

I could not imagine how serious it was, but they also told me that the bus would stop soon. The site was just an outskirt of the city center and I could walk back to the hotel within an hour, but I could not picture what was coming, hence I gave up skiing and went back.

 

Sooner or later, the wind got strong and the scenery became just white with a visibility of several meters, which started from the afternoon to the midnight. I watched it through a large glass window on a ground floor of the hotel that the snow blew in a side way, glittered by the city light. I could imagine this was much worse in the countryside without the light that there was no way to drive a car.

 

This whiteout occurs furiously where the temperature keeps below a frozen point all day long during the winter, which leaves a snow as it fell and it blows up in the strong wind. Especially in the southeast of Hokkaido, the strong south wind starts to blow around the start of March, even though the temperature is still kept below the frozen point. That was why I saw the whiteout on that day.

 

I have experienced a blizzard during a drive in the countryside where the snow on the ground was blown up, which deprived a visibility. There was no way to see anything even a car in front of me running a few meter away. When the whiteout started, the only option was to stop driving at all.

 

That whiteout was the severest in a decade that there were several people died, though I actually doubted some of them were mobilized by the police.

 

They mobilized many children for their operation and it was likely the same on that day. When I went to the ski site, there were many kids in the cafeteria with fewer attendants, which might be normal as it was Saturday, I thought.

 

However, the snow became strong when I left the site till getting back to the hotel and it became impossible to drive sooner or later. I was an outsider not to know how serious it was, but all of the local people knew how dangerous it was and necessary to go back home until the whiteout started.

 

When stuck by it on the way back, they should stop a car to stay at the spot, though the muffler is buried by the snow, the exhaust gas leaks into the room. Therefore, they should cut the engine at some point of the time, but they need to cut a heating as well, which increases a probability to be frozen to death.

 

That is why there are many people died when the whiteout strikes. You can lower a risk when getting rid of the snow at the muffler, but if you are stuck in a bank of snow, you cannot open a door which might be ended up with the cold death or carbon monoxide intoxicated death to be found in the next morning.

 

I saw some of them highly likely hard to go back home on that day, some of those were also highly likely mobilized by the police. I had no clue how true I was, but the local people know its certainty.

 

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