Snow and weather reports posted on Friday 23rd March 2018
Monday 15th December 2014, 7:30am
It hasn't stopped snowing since yesterday.
It's one of those times when numbers are difficult to be accurate with and in a way kind of meaningless. I think yesterday morning in my report I actually under-reported - there was more like 70cm on the ground once I got a measure on it.
Then mid-day I moved another fresh 30cm from the same place. Then in the evening I moved another 40cm. And this morning, there was another 30-40cm. That's all fresh snowfall. So adding all of that up, it comes to 170-180cm! And a full 1m since yesterday. There's a piece of unused level land next to where I am here and the snow on that land is now getting on for 2m.
I was just looking back at reports from previous seasons (you can do that too using the links at the bottom of this page) - in recent years we have never had so much snow at this early stage in the season.
I think what has surprised so many locals here is how we have only really had 2 snow 'events' down to town level - basically last weekend and the weekend that has just finished - yet here we are with nearly 2m of snow piled up on the ground around town. All a bit overwhelming really, though of course exciting at the same time.
As you might expect, it has been causing transportation issues as everyone tries to cope with it all. The Joetsu Shinkansen was actually stopped for a while yesterday as there was a power cut, though I'm not sure if that was related to the weather conditions somehow or not.
OK so let's get onto resort stuff.
This morning Iwappara are suddenly up to a snow depth of 170cm. (Compare with Christmas Day last year when that number was at 105cm). They don't seem to be opening any more lifts though with the two lifts that have been open so far remaining open.
Kagura are reporting 40-50cm of new snow overnight, but there's the snow that fell during the day as well which is surely not included in that.
Maiko Snow Resort now have a snow depth of 190cm and new snowfall of 60cm.
It doesn't look like there's much more open in terms of lifts and course though just yet. I imagine there's a lot of snow management to deal with at the moment, but lack of snow is not going to be an issue this December.
The snowfall may ease off a bit later today and tomorrow and warm up a little, but that next storm is still scheduled to be with us around Wednesday bringing with it lots more snow.
Oh yes one thing I haven't mentioned, the snow has been fabulously light. Once the storm passes and people can catch their breath, conditions should be amazing.
If you do get out there, take real care with all this fresh deep snow. Visibility is limited as well.
A reminder that there are lots of of Yuzawa and Minamiuonuma lift tickets in the SnowJapan Prize Draw here:
Kagura - pretty much fully open Naeba (part open) Iwappara - part open, 2 central area lifts operating Joetsu Kokusai - part open, 5 lifts operating Maiko Snow Resort - part open, top Okusoeji area, Gondola and 2 Okusoeji lifts operating
Did you see Nozawa on the news yesterday? Nozawa as well as relatively close-by Myoko and Tsunan in Niigata Prefecture all made the national news with the silly amounts of snow that has been falling in the region.
To add to that 1m that I was talking about yesterday, the resort reported 48cm of fresh snow at the top of the mountain during the day yesterday through until evening and this morning they are saying 50cm (from 3pm yesterday until 8am this morning). It's one of those times when if anything people are prepared to under-report, for fear of scaring people away! Sounds funny that doesn't it. A great situation to be in though and infinitely preferably to the opposite!
The official snow depth for the upper Yamabiko area of the resort here in Nozawa has already smashed through the 2m mark. Just to compare for the fun of it - last year on 15th December 2013, the same number was on 100cm.
It's all very exciting anyway and while we're still in the middle of the storm so to speak it's going to be an absolutely fantastic start to the season. Funny how we were talking about the resort delaying opening due to lack of snow... how long ago was that? ;)
While it's snowing still now, it is expected to stop maybe later this morning. That won't last for long though with it forecast to start snowing again later on in the day tomorrow with heavy snow to fall overnight into Wednesday and Thursday.
Come Friday and Saturday, we might get to see the sun and some clearer skies. Guessing but would surely expect Nozawa Onsen to be near fully open by the end of the week and the weekend. I will of course post any information as we get it on here.
Yamabiko A Yamabiko B Yamabiko C Yamabiko D Yamabiko E Kokenashi Uenotaira Mizunashi A Mizunashi B Bunabayashi Yunomine B Ushikubi Nagasaka Nagasaka connect
Nagasaka Gondola Yamabiko Four Lift Yamabiko Number 2 Four Lift Uenotaira Four Yu Road (Moving walkway)
The snow continues to fall in Minakami with a total snow depth of 55cm at the valley level and 160cm in the upper mountains. The forecast predicts snow through until Thursday evening clearing for Friday and Saturday before the next storm cycle come in on Sunday.
It has been a great start to the season with all of the Minakami resorts now having more than enough snow for opening.
Valley 40cm Upper Mountains 100cm
Planned opening dates:
Tenjindaira - OPEN Houdaigi - OPEN Norn Minakami - December 18th White Valley- December 19th Minakami Kogen - December 20th Okutone - December 20th
(Updated at 10:30am with Tsugaike Kogen info below)
Snowing during the day yesterday, though a level down from the heavy snow of the previous day.
Not as much snow as some areas not too far away from us here in Hakuba this morning. 5cm new I'd say in the village this morning, with resorts reporting 5-15cm of fresh on the slopes. Nice regular topups, would be nice to have it deeper on the lower slopes but we're getting there.
Gradually more is opening as well. Riesen at Happo-one opened yesterday for the first time this season allowing you to now ski down to base.
Hakuba Goryu is also now almost fully open.
Snow is falling this morning though the forecast is for it to not last much beyond lunchtime, but start up again later tomorrow. Might not be as cold tomorrow but come Wednesday we're expecting heavy snow and potentially strong winds.
Happo-one The Riesen Slalom course opened around lunchtime yesterday - now able to ski down to the Gondola base station. Reporting 15cm fresh snow at Usagidaira this morning.
Official Snow depths: Base - 60cm Usagidaira - 150cm
Open lifts: -Kokusai Number 3 -Panorama -Alpen Quad -Kurobishi Number 2 Quad -Skyline Number 2 pair -Adam Gondola
Open courses: -Panorama -Usagidaira -Kurobishi -Skyline -Riesen (part) -Shirakaba (part)
Hakuba 47 10cm on the slopes fresh this morning to add to the 5cm during the day yesterday.
Official Snow depths: Base - 85cm Upper - 185cm
Open courses: -Route 1 Upper -Route 1 Lower -Route 2 -Route 3 -Route 5 -Route 6 -Route 7 -Route 8 -The Tree Riding Zone is not open yet.
Open lifts: -Gondola -Line A.B -Line C -Line E
Hakuba Goryu Reporting 10-15cm of snowfall this morning. Most of Hakuba Goryu is now open.
Open lifts: -Alps Number 1 Pair lift -Alps Number 3 Pair lift -Gondola -Toomi Sky Four lift -Mikly Four lift -Cosmo Four lift -Iimori Number 6 Pair lift
Open courses: -All courses except Merry Land Course plan to be open
Tsugaike Kogen Two lifts that were moving over the weekend are not moving today and you can't ski back down to base now with the Maruyama area closed. This seems to be the plan for the week, surely more will be opening at the weekend.
Hakuba Iwatake Snow Field - Friday 19th December Hakuba Sanosaka - Saturday 20th December
SnowJapan is running a lift ticket prize draw with 400+ lift tickets to send out to site members - 50 of those are for resorts in the Hakuba area, so lots to win. For details on the prize draw, check out this page:
What's this... blue skies?! The sun is out this morning.
But what's this... close to half a metre of fresh snowfall?! Oh yes.
With reports of 60cm or so on the mountain it's one of those mornings where you just HAVE to get the skis or board on and get out. Deep fresh powder along with a rare and perhaps unexpected break in the clouds. Almost perfect. It probably won't last long!
The Morino Chair lift is now operating at Niseko Village and the really good sign is that the individual ski resorts are now not feeling the need to have to report on what courses are open. Which means that most of the mountain is now open.
As mentioned in the Avalanche Report below, we now just wait for the gates to get opened and the top lifts. Still, conditions are so good elsewhere that there's surely more than enough to keep everyone happy. (Well maybe almost everyone!)
The Gondola at Niseko Village, King Number 3 lift at Grand Hirafu and the top Hanazono lift are moving this morning, but have been running at reduced speeds early on due to a moderate wind.
Snowfall will be back maybe even soon today but definitely tomorrow, and as with many regions of Japan once again we expect heavy snowfall and strong winds.
After that slow start, December 2014 is shaping up nicely.
Niseko Avalanche Report
Niseko base 6am: -8C, 40cm of crystal snow without snowdrift development. Coastal data: NNE9m/s at Benkei cape. Moiwa 650m: 60cm of new snow without snowdrift development. Annupuri 1000m: 120cm snowpack and 250cm snowpack in leeward slopes around 800m.
Snow clouds are expanding throughout the Sea of Japan coastline and dropping heavy loads of snow in coastal mountain areas. 60cm of new snow has dumped in some areas but snowdrifts development is minimal. Snow and wind is forecasted to pick up again and will make cornices and slabs grow. Avalanches from Dec 10th layer are to be expected in steep exposed slopes above 800m. Newly formed slabs are getting thicker and although they are relatively stable, large-scale avalanches are still likely to happen with a slight stimulation around knoll terrains. The snowpack is steadily growing and gates below 1000m are being ready to open soon. Please be patient for a little longer.
Do not duck ropes. Deep and light powder snow can be found along the courses today. Be careful not to get stuck. The storm will pick up soon. Remain in control and be careful not to fall. You can easily get suffocated in deep snow.
Here's what is planned to be open today (subject to change):
Niseko Grand Hirafu Courses: Super Course and Furiko Courses now open Lifts: Ace Family Lift, Ace Number 2 Center Four lift, Ace Number 3 lift, Holiday Number 1 Pair lift, Hirafu Gondola, King Number 3 Triple lift, Swinging Monkey. Night skiing lifts: Ace Family Pair lift, Ace Number 2 Center Four lift, Hirafu Gondola, Holiday Number 1 Pair lift
Niseko Hanazono Courses: Stairway to Heaven, Silver Dream, Legend of Shinya, Yotei Sunset, Crystal Garden Lifts: All 3 quad lifts operating Night skiing lifts: No night skiing at Hanazono
Niseko Village Lifts operating: Niseko Gondola, Community Chair, Banzai Chair, Morino Chair Night skiing lifts: Community Chair and Banzai Chair
Niseko Annupuri Lifts operating: Annupuri Gondola, Jumbo Number 1 Quad, Jumbo Number 2 Pair, Jumbo Number 3 Pair Night skiing lift: Jumbo Number 1 Quad
Official snow depth numbers at the time of writing:
Grand Hirafu / Hanazono: Top - 190cm Base - 120cm
Niseko Village: Top - 140cm Base - 100cm
Annupuri: Top - 130cm Base - 110cm
Niseko lift tickets can be won in the SnowJapan Prize Draw, details here:
Not masses of snow this morning to report, 10cm here at base, but I think the wind has been blowing it about and there's really more fresh out there.
Can't see much though due to the snow and the wind blowing it about. All a bit mad out there and it's not going to settle down for a while it would seem with stormy conditions due especially as we get into Wednesday and Thursday. Expect lift operations to be affected at times.
Looks like the best time to visit might be the end of the week or weekend when the storm clears. Sunny conditions even maybe. And the snow conditions will surely be excellent.
If you want to win a free lift ticket for Zao Onsen, please check the Prize Draw currently running on SnowJapan
Onsen Number 1 pair lift Onsen Number 2 quad Mikaeri pair lift Chuo Number 1 pair lift Chuo Number 2 pair lift Paradise pair lift Yokokura Number 1 pair lift Utopia Number 2 pair lift Shobunuma Number 1 triple Shobunuma Number 2 pair Kuroboshi Number 1 Quattro quad lift Katakai triple lift All Ropeways/gondolas
Another late report here, thanks primarily to the last of the bonenkai—end of the year parties; they never stop—and the fact that once I got some coffee in it was time to go blow more snow. According to the highly accurate measure-the-leg-with-a-ruler method, we had another 70cm or so. Some blowing today might have added to that, but it was another good fall. More than the 10cm that Akakura Onsen reported.
It seems that Suginohara has decided to stay open on the weekdays this week as well.
Maybe it's all this snowfall (and maybe people are out there on the lifts!).
Anyway, it's a good start to the season, with some solid snowfall - and it was pretty solid snow today—more water than earlier falls. Read more ...