Snow and weather reports posted on Thursday 25th May 2017
Monday 14th December 2015, 7:58am
Good morning from Yuzawa.
Yesterday was a calm day, though not the blue skies of Saturday. This morning there is a lot of cloud in the sky again some low clouds hanging around in places and it's a generally grey start to the day.
It is hovering around 5C degrees now as of 8am with a high temperature of about 12-13 degrees expected early afternoon.
Resort openings remain the same with Kagura and Naeba both part open - see below for more details.
The Tashiro area of the Kagura resort are now saying that they are planning to open on Saturday 19th December, though no doubt nature will have the final say on that...!
So let's take a fresh look at the forecast.
Tomorrow will probably bring some sunshine and will be another mild day, perhaps slightly warmer than today will be. But you want the good news, right? It's still looking like Wednesday and Thursday - and perhaps into Friday - are going to be important days for us. That's when snow is due to be falling. Wednesday might be more of a rain day (at least to start off with) in town with snow due to be falling higher up, and Thursday looks like it has the most potential for colder temperatures and decent snowfall. Please!
Going back to what we posted in the report yesterday about there being lots of snow this time last year but six years ago some resorts around town were struggling to open even after Christmas... those examples are pretty much the two extremes. Last year was a truly excellent start in terms of snowfall in early to mid December. Then we had that season when some resorts were only able to open just before New Year.
Usually, 'on average' as it were, the season falls somewhere between those two. That's probably why the majority of resorts aim to open by around the weekend of the 19th December. We will of course just have to wait and see what nature brings this year. And we will of course bring you the latest every day.
Planned opening dates for resorts in Yuzawa Town and Minamiuonuma City (by date):
Currently part open: Kagura The main Kagura course - 1500m in length, real snow (and artificial) - is open. The Mitsumata (snow-mat) area is currently being used as a connection to get to the open Kagura area. Operating lifts are Mitsumata Ropeway, Mitsumata Number 1 lift, Mitsumata Number 3 lift, Kagura Gondola, Kagura Number 1 high speed quad and Kagura Number 1 romance lift (on Saturdays and holidays during this period). All but the latter two are used to get to the snow. The Kagura Gondola needs to be taken to return back to the Mitsumata area.
Naeba A few lower area courses open with artificial snow.
Seemed quite busy again out there yesterday though unfortunately it was quite noticeable that there is less snow. Bringing it home that - as with so many other regions of Japan this mid December - we really need a good dump of snowfall. At least the resort is able to be part open, I suppose!
It is another calm and mostly cloudy morning, looks like thick fog on the mountain too.
The forecast for this coming week remains unchanged with snowfall expected around Wednesday-Friday and it should be getting nice and cold as well. Some people may complain when it gets cold, but I think they would prefer it to mild and snow-free periods.
Let's hope this upcoming winter snap delivers the goods.
Lifts that are currently operating (subject to change):
- Sky Cable (gondola) - Zao Chuo Ropeway - Zao Ropeway - Chuo Number 1 pair AB - Mikaeri pair - Onsen Number 1 pair - Utopia Number 2 pair
Yesterday proved to be surprisingly nice, after icy conditions the day before, the groomers did a good job of smoothing over the courses which made for some fast and grippy runs. Above 1000m there is still a little bit of powder hanging around, however off piste conditions bellow 1000m are plagued by a nasty breakable crust.
The skies are clear this morning, with temperatures dropping to -8°C. With calm winds up top, it is promising to be a stunning day. While we are all wishing for powder, it's not often we get cloudless skies in Hokkaido!
Looking forwards, this is the last day of settle weather before the next storm rolls in. It is due to start warm, with rain falling to the peak, before cooling and bring a much needed dose of powder. I think most people in Hokkaido are crossing their fingers for less rain and more snow. Read more ...
Monday 14th December 2015, 8:32am
Clear and sunny but cold
Greetings on this beautiful early morning here in Niseko. The sun is out, the clear blue skies are looking lovely and it's also actually rather cold. My trusty thermometer outside was telling me -5C just a little earlier. That's a bit more like it! I do like a good cold morning in winter. It just feels right doesn't it?
So yes, lovely blue skies this morning and it is going to be a fine day. It will surely warm up some during the day and the local forecast says it might do so up to around 3 degrees here at base.
Tomorrow there'll be more cloud to start off with and unfortunately we will probably get rained on in the afternoon. There are signs that tomorrow might be the last of this current generally milder period, with a much wanted return to more winter-like conditions proper by Wednesday. Hopefully we can expect snowfall on Wednesday. And on Thursday. And maybe on Friday... now that sounds good to me, please don't let us down Nature-san!
There are more and more excited people arriving in Niseko now and that is only going to continue as we enter the second half of December and the first of the big holidays - Christmas. You can almost feel the 'pressure' (for want of a better word) for more snow and for the mountain to be able to get fully open.
That should not be too far away. Can't wait!
Remember that at the moment the Niseko Grand Hirafu, Niseko Village and Niseko Annupuri resort upper mountain connections are not open and so if you want to get between them you'll need to get to base and take the road bus.
Niseko Avalanche Report
Niseko base 6am: -5℃, no snowfall, mild breeze bluebird. Coastal data: Benkei cape SSW2m/s, Kamui cape SW6m/s, 0.7m waves. NNW5m/s at 1000m altitude.
No snowclouds can be observed and temperature is relatively low in the high-pressure system. Thaw is continued until tomorrow. Avalanches can occur even in shallow conditions. Hard slab avalanche caused by the collapsing of the 15cm crust layer is to be considered in Kozan no Sawa (Backbowl) 1200m sidewalls’ 30-40 grade slopes.
There has been a case of fatal avalanche accident at this place. Riding steep and large vertical drop slope involves great danger. Better not over-estimate your skills. The current conditions may not the best, but will turn better soon.
Be flexible with your plans.
Resort specific news as of 8:30am - subject to change during the day
The lifts market with an asterix (*) below are planned to be open for night skiing
Niseko Grand Hirafu Lifts planned to be running: - Ace Family pair* - Ace Number 2 Quad Center Four (for transport) - Ace Number 3 pair - Hirafu Gondola (for transport) - King Number 3 triple - Holiday Number 1 pair - Swinging Monkey Courses planned to be open: - Family - Beginners access - Center - Shirakaba - Kogen - Boyo - Holiday - Rinkan (lower part) - Jumbo - Connecting Course
Niseko HANAZONO Resort Lifts planned to be running: - Hanazono Number 1 quad - Hanazono Number 2 quad - Hanazono Number 3 quad Courses planned to be open: - Parallel - Silver Dream - Stairway to Heaven - Setsuzoku course - Crystal Garden - Yotei Sunset (ungroomed)
Niseko Village Lifts planned to be operating: - Niseko Gondola - Community Chair* - Banzai Chair*
Niseko Annupuri Lifts planned to be operating: - Annupuri Gondola - Jumbo Number 1 quad* - Jumbo Number 2 pair - Jumbo Number 3 pair Courses planned to be open: - Utopia - Shirakaba - Paradise - Junior - Family - Silver ---
There is some very fine scenery to be seen from higher up this morning - a beautiful sea of clouds hanging over the valley. (Pity I am looking at it from my computer rather than actually being there!)
That's always an awesome sight.
The sea of cloud will probably clear up fairly quickly and we might get to see a bit of sunshine today though clouds likely to remain close-by during the day.
Yesterday was a mostly cloudy, mild and calm day. Quite a lot of people out and about though of course the choice for skiing and snowboarding so far is still very limited.
It's another mild morning. It is currently 4C degrees at village base and we are expecting that to rise to perhaps up to around 10C later on.
Tomorrow looks set to be a similar kind of situation but just with rain later on in the day.
But don't fret, there is also good news to look forward to... and that is that the rain should be turning into snowfall overnight into Wednesday and all being well we might get a decent amount of snowfall (especially up on higher areas) through until Thursday. We'll just have to wait and see actually how that turns out of course, but all fingers crossed please.
The Hakuba 47 resort are today having to close their Route 3 and the lower part of Route 8 due to the snow conditions. It will of course be fantastic when we get to the stage of the season where all resorts are fully open and such details don't need to be checked and reported. Let's hope that's pretty soon!
Resort news as of 8:30am on Monday 14th December - subject to change
Hakuba 47: Hakuba 47 is reporting 0cm of new snowfall. The upper area of Route 1, Route 2, Route 4, Route 5, Route 6 and Route 8 (part) are now open. Route 3 and the lower part of Route 8 are unfortunately now closed due to the lack of snow. Planned lifts: Gondola Line AB Line C Line E Official snow depth Upper: 50cm Base: 0cm
Hakuba Goryu: Hakuba Goryu is reporting 0cm of new snowfall. The upper Panorama Course and Grand Prix courses at Hakuba Goryu are open. Planned lifts: Telecabin Gondola (to get to the upper area that is currently open) Alps Number 1 pair lift Alps Number 3 pair lift Official snow depth Alps: 55cm Iimori: -cm Toomi: -cm
Hakuba Happo-one: Hakuba Happo-one is reporting 0cm of new snowfall. Parts of Usagidaira, Panorama and Kurobishi areas are skiable. Planned lifts: Adam Gondola Alpen quad lift Kurobishi Number 2 quad lift Kokusai Number 3 lift Panorama pair lift Official snow depth Usagidaira: 45cm Nakiyama: -cm Sakka: -cm
Tsugaike Kogen: The upper part of the Han-no-ki course area is open. Planned lifts: Eve Gondola Han-no-ki high speed pair lift Official snow depth Tsuga-no-mori: 51cm Maruyama: -cm
Kashimayari: Course 2 is open Planned lifts: Number 2 pair lift
Good morning as we fast approach the planned opening date of the season for the Madarao Kogen and Tangram Ski Circus resorts.
The big question is... will they be able to?
Right now we're back to a mostly snow-less mountain with the last week or so seeing a mix of mild temperatures and rain. Not the best. But best to get those things out of the way before the season I suppose!
So to this week. The region is set to enjoy a drop in temperatures and snowfall around mid-week. Thursday looks like it should be the peak of that cold front.
Just how much snow falls and if it will be enough for an opening.... well, we'll just have to wait and see.
I'll keep you updated - hopefully it will be snowing when I post my next report.
Madarao Kogen plans to open on Friday 18th December Tangram Ski Circus plans to open on Saturday 19th December.
It was -7C on my verandah at 8.30am today, which is very cold indeed. Walking around Kitanomine, the footpath had frozen and was crunchy where the footprints were. There is a definite crust on the deeper snow to the side of the footpath. It held me for a second but then I fell through, confirming that about 25cm of snow is holding around Kitanomine Village, with a pretty sturdy crust.
The forecast is taunting us because there are at least 4 days of heavy snow coming but it's pretty consistently preceded by rain. At this stage, the rain is forecast for Tuesday afternoon and the five days afterwards show snow. Sometimes the updated forecast doesn't have rain (that's the taunting bit) but the smart money is on rain before snow. We will evaluate how it affects the base when the time comes.
The backcountry is in better shape than we expected, with about 40cm of powder on top at Tokachidake and a lot of locals out either ski touring or snow climbing yesterday.
I stopped to watch the night skiers yesterday and it was pretty busy. somebody sitting on every third chair I would estimate. It was very clear and very cold yesterday evening.
Photo 1 is the resort at about 7.30am this morning at Kitanomine Zone, which is not yet open and definitely needs snow. Photo 2 is back towards town with not a breath of wind to move that flag. Read more ...