Snow and weather reports posted on Wednesday 17th January 2018
Thursday 14th January 2016, 7:59am
Snow clouds above
Light snow is falling early this morning though not yet enough for a number to be logged into my observed snowfall. Hopefully there'll be some of that to report tomorrow as snow is forecast for today, tonight and into tomorrow.
Can we get to see some heavy snowfall, the kind we most dearly love so much, rather than the light variety.
Clearer skies currently forecast over the weekend but it should remain cold, perhaps a bit less so around Sunday. After the weekend more snow is on that forecast for Monday and Tuesday and it looks particularly promising as well.
Good morning from Niseko where we have another 15cm of fresh snow on the ground.
Yesterday I spent most of the morning at Hirafu and over at Hanazono. The conditions were fantastic out there, lots of deep snow to be played in; and lots of people playing as well. There was even a bit of sunshine at times in the morning but the snow clouds prevailed for most of the day, though it wasn't heavy.
This morning the snow has been back and it is still snowing, though just lightly at the time of writing this report. There seems to be more of a wind around this morning and the resorts are reporting fairly strong wind up on the mountain so there's a chance that it may affect lifts today - though starting the day with the intentions of being open as planned.
The forecast still shows a possible break in the snowfall around Sunday though that probably won't last long as we should be back to snow early in the week. If anything, early next week the snowfall may get heavier!
Getting bored of all this snowfall? No, didn't think so!
From this morning the 'Deep Snow Forest' (深雪林間) course will be open at Niseko Annupuri - meaning that all of their courses are now open. It's an ungroomed course, 400m in length and fairly close to base with a steepest gradient of 34 degrees and average gradient of 24 degrees. The resort describes it (in Japanese) as a tree run and off-piste course for advanced riders. Definitely worth a look I would say if you are gnarly enough. If you aren't gnarly enough just pretend you didn't know, or say you went somewhere even more gnarly.
The winner of the 3 person full day private tour prize has been notified and I believe not replied to their mail yet. If you entered, please check your email! On behalf of Hanazono Powder Guides and SnowJapan, a big thank you to everyone that entered. All of the totally anonymous comments will be read and comments taken on board.
On the main NHK news last night they were headlining that there would be a piece on the economic effects of the 'mild winter' this year. Here was me thinking we would get an interesting in-depth look at how ski resorts are being affected in different regions around Japan... only to get a report on the price of cabbages. And daikon radishes. It was rather odd, perhaps a bit like the season. (For those of you interested, cabbages are apparently down 34% in price compared with last year. I can't remember the number for the daikon).
In more serious news, it is very sad to hear about the avalanche incident over in the French Alps. A time to perhaps remember once again the potential dangers that are always close by with this sport that we love. Not that we should ever be forgetting those of course. Let's take care out there.
Resort specific lift opening news at time of writing - subject to change during the day:
Niseko base 6am: -7℃, 20cm of broken crystal snow with snowdrifts development. Moiwa 800m: W15m/s, 40cm snowfall with snowdrifts. Mikaeri 740m: -9.48℃, W6.7m/s, snowdrifts and bad visibility. Annupuri 1150m and Hirafu 1000m: strong westerly wind with large development of snowdrifts. Benkei cape: NNW14m/s, Kamui cape NW11m/s, 1008hPa, 1.5m waves.
The wind picked up as the low-pressure system moved east, snowfall also picked up from 4am, generating large development of cornices and snowdrifts. 45cm thick surface slab avalanche are likely to occur in 800m knoll terrain. The storm is forecasted to calm down around 10am, however avalanche risk will remain high all morning in steep valley slopes above 800m elevation. Peak gates 2 & 3 will be closed at least until noon. Please follow the patrol’s instructions. Stay away from Osawa cornice area and Higashi-One cornice area, and do not duck ropes when gates are closed. Gates are the only access point to the out of bounds area. Conditions have changed from yesterday and hazard level is higher today, heavy load of unstable snowdrifts are present in some aspects and are highly likely to slide with riding stimulation. Cornices and knolls are signs to avoid.
Most accidents occur during and just after storms. The snow in the tree runs is good, but depth is uneven. Beware of collision and falling in cracks that are hard to see from above. Respect the Rules and have a safe day.
Official resort snow depths as of Thursday 14th January 2016:
No new cm of snow to report after the lovely day we had yesterday (* lovely in terms of clear and sunny weather).
There's cloud around today and I am happy to report snow has started falling and fingers crossed should be for most of today and tomorrow. Might be less over the weekend but Monday and Tuesday are looking very promising on the forecast.
I can hear people every morning asking 'where's these famous dumps of snow I keep on hearing about in Nozawa'? Like the regular 30cm every day kind of snowfall?
Everyone is asking the same question.
One thing to be clear about is that this very lean first part to the season is not the norm and has everyone scratching their heads. Seasons have fairly often started a bit later than hoped for, but usually by the end of the year at the latest things are in full swing, and January often sees very decent snowfall. Just take a look through all of the archive reports from previous seasons to get an idea of how things usually go. You can find them at the bottom of the report page on the main site.
It doesn't feel right not having those heavy and sustained snowfalls. But possibly we might get some of that early next week?
For now, let's see how much we get today. I'll let you know tomorrow morning.
Friday is the famous Dosojin Fire Festival in Nozawa which is probably the biggest date of the year for Nozawa. Events leading up to the main event on Friday have begun. If you are staying in Nozawa I'm sure your accommodation hosts will be more than happy to give you the details. Here's a bit of background:
Dosojin Fire Festival
This festival is one of the three most famous fire festivals in Japan. It is held on January 15th every year to pray for a plentiful harvest, health and good fortune in the coming year. The festival dates back to 1863 and though the location has changed, the festivities remain the same. During this festival the twenty-five and forty-two year old men from the village play a very important role. An old belief in Japan dictates that, for men, these years are unlucky ages. The twenty-five and the forty-two year old men in their unlucky ages construct the shaden (shrine) from beech wood that reaches a height of 18 meters. Every year it takes 100 villagers to build the shrine. The trees are cut down in October and brought down from the mountain, through the village, on January 13th. After the shaden has been constructed, the priest from Kosuge shrine performs a ceremony to endow it with a God. Along with the shaden there are an average of five tôrô (dedicatory lantern poles) erected every year. These poles are made by a family in the village to celebrate the birth of the first son. The tôrô are offered to the Gods in a prayer for health and good fortune. The festivities begin with the lighting of the fire by the twenty-five and forty-two year old men. A small group of men carry a torch, which is lit by striking two stones together, from the Kôno residence to the festival grounds. The torch is used to start a bonfire from which the handmade torches, used to attack the shrine, are lit. The festival centers around the shaden, where the forty-two year olds sit on top and the twenty-five year olds stand guard at the base. Those who are 41 and 43 years old stand around the perimeter to protect the spectators. Torch bearing villagers of all ages attempt to break through the guards and light the shaden on fire. A dangerous and lively battle ensues. The defenders try to put out the fire by striking it with pine branches. The attack lasts for about one hour, after which the 42 year olds call an end to the ceremony and the shaden together with the tôrô are set on fire in an offering to the Gods. The entire festival can take up to four hours from the beginning to the end, but the main attraction is the battle between the guards and the torch bearing villagers.
Official info at time of writing on Thursday 14th January 2016 (subject to change):
Nice and gray (no bluebird, thank you, until we have more snow)
The sun is gone, the clouds are back, and so is more of the very pretty, but very light, snow.
The good news is that snow is forecast almost continuously for the next week, with the possibility of heavier fall around Monday (although I also see possible rain just before that). Offshore the wind has shifted to come in from the north; that's usually good news on the snow front as well. It's pretty strong out there on the water, but really quiet here at the base of the mountain.
Really happy to see all the resorts have fresh news in today; maybe not having a lot of good news has held them back from reporting (and, to be honest, only the temperatures are changing - let's call the snow depths a "general advisory").
And one more good thing; in the few minutes I've been writing the snowfall has picked up a lot. Still not the level we could normally expect, but still snow, still falling, and looks like we could get some new accumulation.
The snow started falling not too long ago and also started later than expected - so much for that 10-20cm of snow overnight that the Niigata local forecast was telling us to expect. Once again it looks like areas just to the north are getting more than us.
But let's go back to yesterday. A beautiful start to the day with a few clouds here and there but mostly very sunny and fine. A few of us spent a few hours over at the upper Okusoeji area of Maiko Snow Resort and conditions up there were actually fairly decent. Much less snow than usual? Absolutely. But snow cover was mostly good apart from the run coming down from the dome restaurant which was getting slightly brown as the day went on. It was fun.
Snow was very thin on the ground at the base of the resort down by the Gondola, and it was strange to actually see the road that goes up by that lower course. Some photos will be posted to SnowJapan today and I'll link in to them in my report tomorrow morning.
Back to today. So yes, it has started snowing and snowfall is forecast for the day today and into tomorrow as well. I don't think we can expect that much today though as it still feels pretty weak.
The forecast shows something interesting potentially for early next week... the sound of 'heavy snow' is something that we are used to hear but not seen much of this season so far. Let's hope it will be a typical kind of snowstorm.
I hope to bring you news of new cm in my report tomorrow.
SnowJapan has a lot of Yuzawa and Minamiuonuma lift tickets to give to readers over the next few weeks. If you would like to enter the prize draw and win some, more information here:
Resort official snow depths (Thursday 14th January 2016) and any specific news:
All resorts in the area are now generally open for the season, though please note that some areas and courses are not yet open. Generally steeper slopes that need more snow are still closed and some lower slopes are patchy.
Hello from Zao and there's some more snow this morning again. Another modest 11cm of snowfall outside my place.
It doesn't feel quite as cold this morning but temperatures remaining below zero which is where we want them to be.
The forecast is looking pretty decent at the moment with light snow over the next few days, and then some heavier snowfall promised for early in the week. Keep your eye on Monday and Tuesday for a snowstorm that looks like it will bring with it lots of potential.
Information as of Thursday 14th January 2016 (subject to change)
All of the lifts at Zao Onsen are operating (except the Karamatsu pair lift which is closed weekdays). All areas of Zao Onsen are now mostly open. Note that there is still less snow than usual and it is thin on the ground especially on lower course areas of the resort.
This morning brings sunny skies with some very light snow flurries.
Unfortunately the gusty winds have returned and are likely to pick up this afternoon again in intensity to around 16-18 Mps making for another chilly multiple layer from head to toe kind of day. With the gusty winds also comes the sporadic operation of the Main Gondola.
Last nights 5cm of snow is another welcome addition but the official base is still only 45cm and there are only 11 runs still open. The forecast, or weather dartboard as it's now referred to, calls for cloudy skies for the next few days with temperatures in the -8 to -10 range. Hopefully we’ll also receive another 4-6cm of snow.
Currently planned operating lifts:
- Appi Gondola - Central Number 1 quad - Number 2 lift A - Number 2 lift B - Number 3 lift B - Number 4 lift - Sailer quad - Sailer connecting Read more ...
Thursday 14th January 2016, 9:15am
Hello and a good morning to you from Hakuba.
Yesterday was a fine day weather wise. Some nice blue skies and clouds, with more of the clouds gathering later in the day.
I'm happy to report some more fresh snow this morning after snowfall overnight. Resorts around the valley are reporting between a few cm at base areas and up to 13cm higher up this morning after snowfall overnight. Modest numbers for sure and we were actually hoping for more (aren't we always!), but they all count.
As has been the theme for the season so far, go high for the best conditions.
Sometimes recently I have been almost wary of looking at the forecast, but today I look and it shows some real promise. We are expecting snow to continue falling today and tomorrow but take a look at Monday and Tuesday on the forecast (below).
'Heavy snow' over the period of two days. Now that sounds fantastic. A few days of heavy snowfall would really make a difference. Please happen!
Are we about to see the winter switch be turned on proper? Let's hoping, as they say.
Resort news as of 8:50am on Thursday 14th January 2015 (where available, all subject to change due to weather conditions)
Hakuba 47: Hakuba 47 is reporting 5cm of fresh snowfall on lower areas and 10cm on upper areas. All courses apart from Route 7 officially open. Tree Riding Zone not yet open for the season. Official snow depth Upper: 155cm Base: 30cm
Hakuba Goryu: Hakuba Goryu is reporting 3-5cm of fresh snowfall on lower areas and 10cm on upper area. Panorama, Grand Prix, Super Course, Champion Dynamic and Woody Courses in upper area; the main Toomi course and the Soft Cream course in the Iimori area are planned to be open today. Planned lifts: Telecabin Gondola Alps Number 1 pair lift Alps Number 3 pair lift Toomi Sky Four lift Toomi Number 1 pair lift Toomi Number 2 pair lift Milky Four lift Official snow depth Alps: 155cm Toomi: 50cm Iimori: 40cm
Hakuba Happo-one: Hakuba Happo-one is reporting 10cm of new snowfall. Grat (part), Usagidaira, Kurobishi, Panorama, Skyline, Kita One and Riesen Slalom areas are planned to be open, lower course areas still closed. Take one of the Gondola, Kokusai Number 1 pair, Sakka Kita-one quad or Nakiyama Number 3 triple lifts to get back down to base. Planned lifts: Adam Gondola Grat quad lift Alpen quad lift Usagidaira pair lift Happo Riesen quad Nakiyama Number 3 triple Kurobishi Number 2 quad lift Kurobishi Number 3 pair lift Skyline Number 2 pair lift Kokusai Number 1 lift Kokusai Number 3 lift Panorama pair lift Kita One quad lift Kita One Number 3 pair lift Official snow depth Usagidaira: 110cm Nakiyama: 35cm Sakka: 15cm
Hakuba Cortina: Hakuba Cortina reporting 7cm of fresh snowfall at base and 13cm higher up. The courses at Cortina that remain closed are: Mt Hieda Ridge, Mt Hieda 2 and 3, Itadaria Ridge and Giant. All other courses are now open. Planned lifts: All lifts apart from Number 7 pair lift now operating Official snow depth Top: 135cm Base: 75cm
Tsugaike Kogen: Most areas of Tsugaike Kogen are now at least part open. Planned lifts: Almost all of the lifts at Tsugaike Kogen are now operating. Official snow depth Tsuga-no-mori: 134cm Maruyama: 40cm Kane-no-naru-oka: 30cm
Hakuba Iwatake Snow Field: Reporting up to 5cm of fresh snowfall. The North and East courses on Mountain Side are currently open. Planned lifts: Noah Gondola 3Sen Line North 4Sen Line East Line Lift Official snow depth Upper: 65cm Lower: 20cm
Hakuba Norikura Onsen: Official snow depth 40cm All lifts apart from Number 8 lift are operating and 8 of the 12 courses are open at Hakuba Norikura Onsen.
Hakuba Sanosaka: Official snow depth 30cm Part open with the Number 1 triple lift, Number 2 quad and Number 5 pair lifts operating. Read more ...
Thursday 14th January 2016, 9:33am
Today is farely overcast in the base area and you're likely to be in the cloud if you head up the gondola.
Good morning from Naeba everyone.
A bit of a change in the weather today as we've had a small amount of snow fallen over night. Although only two cms it's still falling relatively thickly even now. Let's hope this carries on for as long as possible.
The weather forecast for the coming week is looking like minimal snow over the weekend but then a big dump coming on Monday night.
Today as well the challenge course run has opened up although please do take care as snow conditions are definitely less than ideal.
Just a dusting of snow overnight in Shiga Kogen after that lovely day yesterday.
It is snowing lightly here this morning and the forecast is saying light to moderate snow this afternoon and overnight tonight with snow hopefully continuing into tomorrow. I'll just wait to report to you tomorrow morning just how much we get.
The weekend is currently shaping up to be a bit clearer but it should stay cold and then be followed by more snow as we enter next week.
What we really need is a good period of heavy snow. I'm afraid I might be getting repetitious on that subject - sorry!
Official snow depths at Shiga Kogen resort areas (Thursday 14th January 2016):
Please note that resort areas in Shiga Kogen are not known for adjusting their official snow depths on a daily basis!
The snow tap has been turned on again with 11cm of snow overnight in the village, and with the continuing cold temperatures it is going to be the super light powder that Furano is so famous for. -10c was measured at the top of the resort this morning and at base it was -8c.
Walking around the village this morning there was no significant wind or breeze, so it will be pretty calm on the mountain itself. There is a thin layer of broken cloud over the resort and it is letting plenty of sunshine through despite the very cold temperatures. It will be an ideal day to get some photos with those nice sun rays beaming down.
Friday and Saturday will be cloudy with more snow expected on both days. Read more ...
Thursday 14th January 2016, 21:42pm
Light snow overnight and continuing now but very little accumulation at the base of Tenjin. The resort reported 3cm but was up there today and it was more like 10cm, winds were light to moderate from the North and its colder than it has been of late with overcast skies.
Forecast of snow tonight though its currently clear.
Looking like serious snow early next week but will wait till I'm jumping out the window to clear the stuff before I get too excited.
All snow resorts in Minakami were at least part open, but with the recent weather some are now closed waiting for more snowfall: