Getting a little bright out there, with patches of blue
Only a few reports in from the resorts, but I wanted to get this out early. If you're thinking about going offpiste today, choose low-angle slopes in the trees! We have one person missing after going off above Akakan, and a big avalanche down the road in Arai with one person not accounted for - probe line is going on as this report goes out.
All that wind - which got much stronger after my report, and which had gone on through the night before - has deposited some serious wind loading on the hills, and people were reporting slides coming down all over the place.
On piste, you're going to have a great day. It's a little sunny, a little snowy, and the environment will be controlled. It's not all about skiing the trees, folks; cruising on the groomed can be quite invigorating.
Akakura Onsen (Kumado): until 10pm every day until 22 March Tangram Ski Circus: until 8pm on Saturdays until 28 March Madarao Kogen: until 9pm on Saturdays until 21 March Read more ...
Sunday 18th January 2015, 8:26am
Cloud, blue sky, sun at the moment
Greetings from Hirafu on this Sunday morning.
I have just been updating the official snow depths numbers for the resorts (below) and they are largely unchanged - in fact the only change I had to make was the base number curiously going down for Niseko Grand Hirafu - but believe me there's definitely new snow here this morning.
Maybe not quite as exciting a number as I was hoping for, but still a good solid 15cm-20cm. I think the strong winds that we had blowing everything about yesterday probably make it difficult to put a meaningful number on it this morning. Indeed if you take a look at the Avalanche Report below, we have 'Niseko base 6am: -8C, 25cm snowfall in 12 hours, 60cm snowdrifts'. So we can expect differing amounts of fresh snow in places on mountain this morning.
It's a cold start to the morning but thankfully the wind is behaving but it seems gates will be closed this morning. The Early Morning Gondola was unfortunately cancelled this morning due to the lingering weather conditions, but other than that all the resorts seem to be opening as planned. Check for any changes with the resorts during the day.
The sun is shining down on us right now with an increasing amount of blue sky on view up there now amongst the clouds that are still hanging around. Very fine conditions for the first part of the day even if snowfall is still expected today and tomorrow. So the sunshine might be short lived and those clouds are moving pretty fast. So the forecast remains snow falling at times over the next few days with temperatures remaining low.
It's going to be busy out there today.
I always promise myself to get out especially when the sun comes out, so perhaps see you out there.
Resort specific news at time of writing - subject to change during the day
Niseko Grand Hirafu: Looks set to be open as planned this morning. 'Early Morning' lift available daily until 1st February (for 500 yen, Ace Quad Number 2 lift from 8am until 8:20am).
Niseko Village: Looks set to be open as planned this morning. 'Early Morning Gondola' available Saturdays and Sundays until February 8th (for 1300 yen, Gondola open from 7:30am until 8:30am).
Niseko Annupuri: Gondola was set for perhaps a later start but as of 8:30am seems to be moving; looks set to be open as planned this morning.
Niseko Avalanche Report
Niseko base 6am: -8C, 25cm snowfall in 12 hours, 60cm snowdrifts. Moiwa 800m: N20m/s at 5am, -12C, large development of snowdrift and bad visibility. Annupuri 1150m: wind calmed down to N8m/s at 7am, -14C, large development of snowdrifts. Hirafu 1000m: NE15m/s at 6am, -15C, large development of snowdrifts. Coastal data: Benkei cape NNW18m/s at 5am, NNW12m/s at 6:30, Kamui cape NNE7m/s at 6am, 1010hPa, 2.1m waves.
The atmospheric pressure gradient is large, a strong storm with heavy snowfall persisted until dawn, generating large development of snowdrifts and cornices. The wind has started to settle down, however the avalanche risk in the leeward snowdrift slopes is extremely high. Gates will be kept closed regardless of chair-lift operations. Please follow the ski patrol’s instructions. Accidents often happen just after storms. Many of the avalanche accidents in the out of bounds area happened in easily accessible hazardous slopes around the ski resorts. Gates opening/closing are managed in order to minimize the risks of accidents. The snow might be good, but it is still too risky to open the gates at this stage. DO NOT duck ropes and traverse to Osawa cornice slopes or Higashi-One area. Large crown & fast running surface slab slides are to be expected in leeward steep slopes & valleys. Be extremely careful.
Official snow depth numbers and any notes at time of writing:
Grand Hirafu / Hanazono: Top - 330cm Base - 130cm
Niseko Village: Top - 270cm Base - 170cm
Niseko Annupuri: Top - 230cm Base - 180cm
Lifts open for night skiing (planned):
Niseko Grand Hirafu Ace Family Pair lift, Ace Number 2 Center Four lift, Hirafu Gondola, Holiday Number 1 Pair lift
Niseko Hanazono Resort No night skiing at the Hanazono area
Snowfall for the day yesterday along with some real blowy northerly winds as well, quite strong at times. I actually had a day in Nagaoka city yesterday so I don't know for sure but would imagine that the wind might have messed around with some lifts other than just those at Kagura.
It's not as windy this morning but snow is still falling. How much snow?
Well, yesterday evening there had been about 20cm during the daytime and this morning there's another 10-15cm so I'm calling 30-35cm of fresh snowfall since my report yesterday.
Kagura are reporting 40-50cm fresh snow this morning; Naeba report 20-50cm; Maiko Snow Resort report 30cm.
Unfortunately, wind is still affecting the Kagura resort with only from the Mitsumata Ropeway to the Kagura Gondola area open at the beginning of the day - they leave the chance of more of the areas opening if the winds ease off.
There might be a chance of that though as come this afternoon the snow is forecast to ease leaving us with just cloudy conditions (perhaps even a bit of sun, he says hopefully), and calmer conditions.
So there's another decent amount of fresh snow on the slopes of all the resorts to play in today. Should be a good one, especially if it clears up sooner than later.
The forecast for tomorrow is cloud and snow showers at times.
Official snow depths (some not updated today due to early report):
Nighta 'night skiing' - where some slopes are floodlit for skiing and snowboarding in the evening - is available at the following resorts in the area.
Ishiuchi Maruyama: Every day until 21st March (until 8:50pm) Iwappara: Every day until 22nd March (until 8pm on weekdays and Sundays, 9pm on Saturdays) Joetsu Kokusai: Every day until 22nd March (until 9pm) Kandatsu Kogen: From 23rd January, 'all night' on holidays (6pm or 10pm until 4am the next morning) Maiko Snow Resort: Every day until 14th March (until 8pm) Naeba: Every day until 29th March (until 9pm) All night on 17th January; 14th February and 14th March (10pm until 6am) NASPA Ski Garden (skiers only): Saturdays until 29th February (until 7pm) Yuzawa Nakazato: Saturdays until 14th March (until 8:30pm)
Chateaux Shiozawa also have nighta but only on certain days - no fixed schedule available. Resorts not mentioned above do not operate 'nighta' (or do not plan to have more this season). Some resorts offer tickets that include nighta, others need a special lift ticket.
Lots of fresh snow over the last day or so here in Hakuba. As you can see from the reports coming in from around the different resorts around the valley, differing numbers being reported but the general headline is decent fresh snow out on the mountains this morning.
Snow and limited visibility for most of the day yesterday, and poor weather conditions actually made Kashimayari (where I was) cancel their nighta. But I think for many it would have been a great day in the snow with some very fine conditions.
A different look this morning with lots of blue sky above Hakuba and the sun shining down on us. There's still a big bank of cloud covering the mountain backdrop from view, but blue skies above that.
Some strong winds are present on mountain this morning though and there is some lift disruption at Happo-one and Hakuba Goryu with the top lifts at both resorts on hold as of 9am. Let's hope they can get those open soon so people can enjoy those top areas.
More snowfall due tomorrow afternoon to be followed by a few days of clearer skies again according to the latest local forecast. Chance of temperatures rising slightly around Wednesday, we'll look at that situation again nearer the time. Doesn't look like it should warm up too much though.
Lots of fresh snow to have fun in this morning. Take care, hope you can get to enjoy it.
Official snow depth numbers and operations at time of writing on Sunday 18th January 2015. Subject to change during the day:
Hakuba Goryu: Reporting 25cm of new snowfall at Alps Daira and 15cm at Toomi area. Top Alps Daira lifts not open early on due to strong wind conditions. All courses open except Panorama and Adventure Course.
Hakuba Norikura Onsen: Reporting another 30cm of fresh snowfall this morning. All courses open.... some currently being checked for safety as I write this once again.
Kashimayari: Reporting 15cm of fresh snowfall. All areas now open.
Night skiing at resorts in the Hakuba area:
Hakuba Goryu: Toomi area every day until 31st March. 6pm until 9:30pm. Hakuba Happo-one: Nakiyama area every day until mid March. 5pm until 9pm. Hakuba Cortina: Every day until 31st March. 5pm until 8pm. Tsugaike Kogen: Kane-no-naru-oka on Saturdays in January (and 11th); February 7th, 14th. 6pm until 8:50pm. Karamatsu-Shirakaba on Saturdays in January 10th (and 11th); February 7th, 14th, 28th; Saturdays in March. 6pm until 9pm. Kashimayari: Every day until 15th March. 4:30pm until 9:30pm. Read more ...
Sunday 18th January 2015, 9:22am
Partly cloudy, sun
Pretty wild conditions yesterday at times, though those Powder Wave Session guys did their best gambaru.
Nighta was unfortunately cancelled though due to the weather conditions.
This morning there's some blue sky on show, though still quite a lot of cloud around. Less so as the morning moves on by the looks, the sun is out and making everywhere look pretty spectacular at the moment.
So a good day with 20+cm of fresh. Next snow due later tomorrow.
Lifts planned to be open:
Number 1 lift Number 2 quad lift Number 3A Number 5 Super quad lift Number 11 lift Number 12 lift Number 13 lift Number 15 lift Moving Walkway Kids Park Freeride Park Tree Run Courses should be open today - Session at Powder Wave so unavailable then.
Night skiing at Madarao is every Saturday until 21st March 2015.
After a day of snowfall and at times rather blusterly winds - at times the snow coming down at quite the speed - the resort is reporting over 50cm of fresh up at Uenotaira and a good solid 30+cm at base since my report yesterday morning. Interestingly less on the upper Yamabiko area than lower down.
Dare I say it, but there should be some good deep conditions to be enjoyed this morning. Very nice.
Looks like Kamoshika and Tanuki courses are closed this morning, I don't know why but imagine they are checking things over there with all the fresh snow. Nozawa is big scale though so plenty of areas to find that fresh snow.
Looking ahead, after a day of cloud and sometimes light snow, a clear and cold night is forecast for tonight with more snow due later on tomorrow. Beyond that a few days of potentially clearer skies and then back to snow around Thursday into Friday.
Let's not get ahead of ourselves though. Today will be a very good one.
Fresh snow to report this morning since yesterday:
Strong winds yesterday meant that in the end the Ski Jumping event was apparently cancelled. I wasn't around but it's a shame when events can't go ahead as planned of course.
This morning we have a good 15-20cm of fresh snowfall and once again there's not much to see out of the window other than grey/white. Visibility poor even down here in the village and while it has actually improved a bit in the last hour or so, most certainly poor out on higher areas of the mountain.
It's a cold morning with snow still falling and a moderate wind. Not as strong as yesterday, but still a wind chill. Feels very cold out.
Forecast tells us it might even clear up to an extent later on today but the snow clouds won't be far away over the next few days.
Zao Onsen is fully open (though note that the Karamatsu pair lift is closed on weekdays).
Night skiing operations at Zao this season
Uwanodai area: Daily until 22nd March
Yokokura area: Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from until 15th March
Open times from 5pm until 9pm.
Juhyo 'Ice Monsters' Light Up night time ropeway operations
January 2015: 17th-18th, 24th-31st February 2015: Every day 1st-28th
Operating from 5pm until 9pm; last ropeway up at 7:50pm. In the event of poor weather conditions, operations are sometimes cancelled. Read more ...
Sunday 18th January 2015, 9:30am
Heavy snow and strong winds overnight made for blizzard conditions.
The wind continues to show strong gusts which are expected to last through the morning to make visibility an issue. Lift operation at many resorts will be expexted to be limited due to wind. The wind should subside by mid afternoon.
Tomorrow should see a relativity calm cloudy day with plenty of fresh underfoot.
Yesterday saw a good 20cm of snow accumulate in the village with substantially more on the mountain. Needless to say today the mountain has fantastic powder skiing all over and the off piste areas will be great for fresh tracks. You will soon notice stepping outside that the temperature is particularly chilly so wrap up well. Winds will die away and tomorrow there will be almost no wind. The next significant snow is looking like it will arrive on Tuesday. Read more ...