It's a really very - very - cold morning here in the Niseko area. My thermometer says -10C. Niseko Village has a low on their report of -16C. The numbers look cold and it sure feels cold too.
I bring news of fresh snow on the ground as well with 20cm at my base here and as you can see on the Avalanche Report below, 25-30cm being reported on the mountain. Lower areas could do with that again (and again, sorry for being greedy!) to freshen things up good and proper.
Unfortunately, the strong winds are still with us. Not as much as yesterday morning and this morning it's not affecting lifts like it was yesterday.
Forecast for the coming few days is slightly less cold and generally cloudy conditions with snow continiung to fall on and off.
Regular readers of Niseko Now will know that sometimes we look at the snowfall numbers that have been reported in Kutchan Town by the Japan Meteorological Agency. Just for a bit of fun. These are the official data recorded by JMA in Kutchan Town - not on the mountain, which usually gets considerably more snowfall. But as it's a constant that we can compare year to year, it's something that is of interest.
Anyway, last season here's the snowfall recorded in early season
November 2013: 99cm December 2013: 258cm
And here's the same this year:
December 2014: 41cm December 2014: 237cm
Of course, we were disappointed with November this year, but as you can see with over a week left for December we are only 21cm off the number from last season for the whole month.
Resort specific news at time of writing - subject to change during the day
Niseko Grand Hirafu: Other than a problem with the Family Lift that they hope to get sorted quickly, Hirafu looks to be opening lifts as ppanned - Gondola running at slower speed.
Moiwa base: -11C, 10cm of broken crystal snow. Moiwa 800m: -13C, NW20m/s, 30cm of new snow. Annupuri 1150m: -18C, W20m/s, 25cm of fresh. 1000m altitude snowpack 135cm. Coastal data: Benkei cape WNW23m/s, Kamui cape WSW19m/s, 1002hPa, 3.1m waves.
The atmospheric pressure gradient remains steep and the storm is persisting. Cornices and snowdrifts are developing and the avalanche risk is high in leeward knolls and cornice slopes around 700m. Avalanches mostly occur in heavy snowdrift slopes during and just after storms, and become an accident if somebody is involved in it. Do not duck ropes to seek fresh lines. One track left under the rope will lead many others to follow it and increase the chances of accidents to happen. Out of bounds access from the resort is still restricted. Avalanche risk is also high everywhere else in the Niseko backcountry area. Carefully chose your tour route. Snowdrift slabs take some time to stabilize after the storm settles down. Precaution is key to safety. Beautiful conditions in the trees today. Beware of frostbite.
Official snow depth numbers and any notes at time of writing:
Grand Hirafu / Hanazono: Top - 230cm Base - 95cm
Niseko Village: Top - 150cm Base - 110cm
Niseko Annupuri: Top - 135cm Base - 110cm
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. There is no night skiing at the Hanazono area.