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Niseko Now: A look back at February and the season so far

SnowJapan#David

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Our Niseko Now reporter has posted a now-traditional monthly recap and we thought it would be good to bring it to the attention of people who may not be reading those reports. This is covering the reports and information from the Niseko area of Hokkaido. And here it is:

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A look back at the season so far: February 2019

As is tradition, here I look back over February and the season so far. You can follow my reports and snowfall numbers at any time towards the bottom of this page and on the Snowfall Analysis page.

February started off really well. I was able to record fresh cm of snowfall on each of the first 16 days in February. There were no massive snowfall numbers – the most in one day was 21cm on 1st February – but we enjoyed a respectable 15-20cm or so on quite a few of the days in that first half of the month. Nice.

The second half of the month was a different story. It was as if the tap had been turned off on 17th February. I added a total of just 9cm over last 12 days of the month. Check out the Snowfall Analysis page to see how much snow we usually get in the second half of February... it’s quite the contrast.

Here is the amount of snowfall that I have measured close to my Hirafu base during the month of February in each of the last seven seasons:

February 2019: 198cm
February 2018: 299cm
February 2017: 160cm
February 2016: 266cm
February 2015: 196cm
February 2014: 178cm
February 2013: 316cm

So, 1m less than what I measured last season but actually fairly comparable amounts to three other seasons. In this current season, of course, the snowfall has been more noticeably weighted in that first half of the season.

Here’s the 'season up to the end of February' totals over the last seven seasons:

2018/2019 season up to end of February 2019: 900cm
2017/2018 season up to end of February 2018: 1198cm
2016/2017 season up to end of February 2017: 605cm
2015/2016 season up to end of February 2016: 877cm
2014/2015 season up to end of February 2015: 1002cm
2013/2014 season up to end of February 2014: 1037cm
2012/2013 season up to end of February 2013: 1295cm

Those raw total numbers (and remember, that’s what they are – they don't tell the full story) are considerably better than the 16/17 season and comparable to 15/16. A fair bit under the other seasons though.

And now here we are in March. In the most recent seasons this is how much snowfall I have observed at base in March:

March 2018: 49cm
March 2017: 83cm
March 2016: 109cm
March 2015: 139cm
March 2014: 113cm
March 2013: 164cm

...and how much snowfall we have received from the beginning of March to the end of the season...

Amount of snow falling between 1st March 2019 & end of season: ???
Amount of snow falling between 1st March 2018 & end of season: 62cm
Amount of snow falling between 1st March 2017 & end of season: 83cm
Amount of snow falling between 1st March 2016 & end of season: 115cm
Amount of snow falling between 1st March 2015 & end of season: 142cm
Amount of snow falling between 1st March 2014 & end of season: 126cm
Amount of snow falling between 1st March 2013 & end of season: 196cm

There's a curious pattern going on there. And it's not one that I am keen to see. 2015 aside, the amount of observed snowfall at base from March onwards has been decreasing - an impressive 2m or so in 2013; down to less than 1m in the last two seasons.

That’s definitely something to ponder. Let's pondering.

The last piece of data is, as always, the snowfall numbers that the Japan Meteorological Agency report from their observation station in Kutchan town. Here is what they have reported for the month of February in recent years:

February 2019: 141cm
February 2018: 202cm
February 2017: 173cm
February 2016: 210cm
February 2015: 167cm
February 2014: 130cm
February 2013: 228cm

And the JMA numbers for the ‘season so far’:

2017/2018 season up to end of February 2019: 954cm
2016/2017 season up to end of February 2018: 741cm
2015/2016 season up to end of February 2017: 698cm
2014/2015 season up to end of February 2016: 825cm
2013/2014 season up to end of February 2015: 804cm
2012/2013 season up to end of February 2014: 900cm

All being well, there is still over two full months left of the 2018-2019 season with the last lifts planning to stop at the end of the day on Monday 6th May.

That is a very long spring season, if we are indeed properly into spring. As you can see above (and in the archives) though, in previous seasons March has delivered some decent snowfall. So, I choose to remain hopeful that we will get some more snow and a few nice surprises. Just how much though... well, I’ll be here to take you through the rest of the season every day until the end.

Even if you have been and gone already this season, please do remember your duty to continue reading my reports through until the end - I want to share with you the story of the whole season. And of course, you can also enjoy watching me start to struggle for things to write on some days as the last part of the season approaches.  ;)

Gambarimasu!

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Thanks to our Niseko Now reporter.

The Niseko Now reports can be found here:

https://www.snowjapan.com/japan-daily-snow-weather-reports/Niseko-Now

 


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