Niseko Now daily snow and weather - Tuesday 3rd January 2017

Niseko Now (Archive Report)

Independent and trustworthy daily snow and weather reports from Niseko region, Japan
ARCHIVE REPORT: Posted at 7:59am on Tuesday 3rd January 2017
Current weather conditions
Observed fresh snowfall AT BASE
weather condition
Base temp:

Top temp:
Precipitation Wind Visibility
precipitation condition
wind condition
0 - NW 4m/s (Hirafu)
visibility condition
This report
Tuesday 3rd January 2017, 7:59am
Monday 2nd January 2017, 8:12am 0cm
Sunday 1st January 2017, 8:20am 0cm
Saturday 31st December 2016, 8:35am 5cm
Friday 30th December 2016, 8:31am 14cm
Thursday 29th December 2016, 8:31am 3cm
Wednesday 28th December 2016, 8:33am 4cm
Last 7 reports (total): 26cm
Last 14 reports (total): 44cm
Current month (January 2017) total: 0cm
2016/2017 season so far total: 293cm

Archive report: Posted at 7:59am on Tuesday 3rd January 2017
The latest Niseko Now report can be found here

Good morning to you from Niseko.

It's a similar situation this morning too with no new fresh snowfall (just a very slight dusting) and a cloudy-overcast start to the day. And it feels cold out too.

Generally calm conditions and I expect all of the lifts to be open as planned this morning, so I feel safe in posting my report early.

Fresh snow please! And on that subject...


A bit of a look at the season so far, and some personal thoughts

First of all, and at the risk of sounding a bit repetitive (though it seems there’s more people reading the reports every week), the numbers I’m talking about here are all now very easily viewable at any time. Both on this page (below) and on the ‘Snowfall Analysis’ page of this report.

Still, I do actually enjoy looking back every so often and so I will keep up my tradition of a monthly look at the situation.

Let’s take look at how the month of November went with the observed snowfall I observed for the month compared with the previous 4 seasons:

November 2016: 110cm
November 2015: 61cm
November 2014: 30cm
November 2013: 123cm
November 2012: 118cm

November 2016 was a fine start to the season and things were looking good. And just take a look at silly old embarrassing November 2014 with a paltry 30cm. Rubbish! (Try not to snigger at the back there.)

On to the month of December:

December 2016: 181cm
December 2015: 244cm
December 2014: 519cm
December 2013: 275cm
December 2012: 418cm

Hmmm. The numbers for December 2016 don’t look so good when compared with previous seasons, do they? (And check out December 2014… that’s some turn around!)

Here’s how ‘the season so far’ totals look. These numbers include all of the snowfall observed from the beginning of the season up until the end of December:

2016/2017 season until the end of December: 293cm
2015/2016 season until the end of December: 308cm
2014/2015 season until the end of December: 549cm
2013/2014 season until the end of December: 398cm
2012/2013 season until the end of December: 536cm

Those season totals make this season look fairly similar to last season but still have us lagging behind previous seasons – and by quite a bit in some cases. Over 2.5m less observed snowfall than the same time in the 14/15 season (yikes) and less than each of the previous four seasons. That’s not the best of trends to have to be reporting.

Of course, December 2016 saw much more rain falling than we would like (actually, we would like none please) and temperatures were nudging into positive numbers a bit too often. There was that one weekend when conditions were really excellent but other than that period it has been up and down. As we start 2017 the snow base is clearly lower than usual and it has taken a long time to get all the lifts and courses open along with the gates and side country.

After the 2015/2016 season everyone was hoping for a Japan-wide bumper season of heavy snowfall but that hasn’t happened in the first part of the season. A look at the other Now reports from around Japan on show that pretty much all the other regions of Japan have been enduring milder temperatures and more rain than expected. In that respect Hokkaido and Niseko are doing comparatively well.

It will be very interesting to see how the season develops over the next few weeks. We may well still get that bumper snow season – after all, it’s still only early January. And of course that is what everyone is really hoping for.

So, let’s hoping! And in the meantime, let’s skiing or boarding. We always need to remember that as much as we have the very highest of expectations with snowfall here in Niseko – and we do - things can’t be perfect all the time and that almost any day on the slopes is better than one at work!

Extra note:
The Japan Meteorological Agency official statistics for Kutchan town this season are curious. They are showing 171cm for November 2016 and 235cm for December 2016, both of which are a fair bit more than I observed. Usually it’s the other way round, with more snow being reported up here in Hirafu than a bit lower down in Kutchan. I’m not sure how to explain that. They don’t seem to be noting any change in location or observation methods. (Mine both remain exactly the same). Anyway it will be interesting to see how those numbers shape up for the rest of the season.

Extra note 2:
Someone sent in a mail asking about the ‘official snow depth’ numbers and noting that they weren’t looking that different from last season. It’s a good question but not one that I have a clear answer for. The ski resorts themselves are origin of those numbers. Personally, I think that they should be looked at with bit of a side glance every so often and perhaps to take a look at the season-long shape that develops. After all, once we have our base it’s the fresh snow that falls that is probably the most important thing for most of us.

I've gone on a bit haven’t I? Apologies for the long report this morning, just ignore me if you don't like it! :)


Niseko Avalanche Report:

Niseko base 6am: -5℃, no snowfall. Moiwa 800m: -6℃, mild wind, no snowdrift development. Annupuri 1150m: -8℃, NW6m/s, snowing and no snowdrift development. Hirafu1200m: -10℃, NNW5m/s. Kamui cape lighthouse: mild wind, 1013hPa, 0.5m waves.

The barometric pressure gradient is flat. The ocean and the mountains are in a calm condition. No notable snowdrift development can be observed and the general avalanche risk is low.

Niseko Village’s gate 11 is scheduled to open today. Listen to the ski patrol’s instructions before entering the Mizuno no Sawa area. Most valley streams aren’t fully buried yet and the water is ice cold, beware not falling in them.

Following tracks from the peak towards Goshiki onsen is a bad idea if you’re unaware of the terrain. There are no buses to/from Goshiki. Carry a map and a compass; always know where you are and where you go.

This information is issued for preventing accidents of all resorts users and people heading to surrounding mountains. Avalanches are not the only hazards. Never underestimate the risks you’re taking and better not overestimate your experience, skills and equipment. Prudency is key to stay safe. Even the smallest accident can become a life-threatening situation in Niseko’s cold environment.

People ducking ropes will have their lift pass confiscated. Don’t risk it.

The snow will eventually come. Have a nice day.


Resort specific opening news at time of writing (subject to change during the day):

Niseko Grand Hirafu
Niseko HANAZONO Resort
Niseko Village
Niseko Annupuri
All resort areas appear to be planning to open as normal this morning.


Official resort snow depths as of Tuesday 3rd January 2017:

Niseko Grand Hirafu & Hanazono
Top - 230cm
Base - 85cm

Niseko Village
Top - 140cm
Base - 100cm

Niseko Annupuri
Top - 140cm
Base - 90cm


Night skiing is planned until Monday 20th March 2017 at the Niseko Annupuri, Niseko Grand Hirafu and Niseko Village resort areas. There is no nighta in the Hanazono area.

Archive report: Posted at 7:59am on Tuesday 3rd January 2017
The latest Niseko Now report can be found here

Niseko Now ski lift operation notes:

All resorts will likely be open as planned at the start of the day today

Monday 2nd January 2017
This report
Tuesday 3rd January 2017
Wednesday 4th January 2017
Photo 1
Photo 2
Photo 3
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Niseko Now observed snowfall data (at base): Recent Niseko Now reports
The data displayed is correct up to and including Tuesday 3rd January 2017
This graph shows the amount of observed snowfall recorded at base in the 21 Niseko Now reports up until Tuesday 3rd January 2017
(View the latest Niseko Now report here :: View more analysis here)
Niseko Now observed snowfall data (at base): Recent season comparisons
The data displayed is correct up to and including Tuesday 3rd January 2017
This table shows the amount of observed snowfall recorded at base in the Niseko Now reports during same period over the last three seasons
(View the latest Niseko Now report here :: View more analysis here)
*as of Tuesday 3rd January 2017
3rd January 0cm 5cm 10cm
2nd January 0cm 7cm 25cm
1st January 0cm 1cm 15cm
31st December 5cm 5cm 40cm
30th December 14cm 23cm 0cm
29th December 3cm 21cm 0cm
28th December 4cm 24cm 0cm
Previous 7 days total 26cm 86cm 90cm
Previous 14 days total 44cm 138cm 257cm
November observed snowfall total 110cm 61cm 30cm
December observed snowfall total 181cm 244cm 519cm
January observed snowfall total 0cm 303cm 257cm
February observed snowfall total - 266cm 196cm
March observed snowfall total - 109cm 139cm
April observed snowfall total - 6cm 3cm
May observed snowfall total - 0cm 0cm
Season observed snowfall total 293cm 992cm 1144cm
Niseko Now observed snowfall data (at base): Monthly and annual accumulation
The data displayed is correct up to and including Tuesday 3rd January 2017
This table shows the amount of observed snowfall recorded at base in the Niseko Now reports for each month and total season accumulation
(View the latest Niseko Now report here :: View more analysis here)
  October November December January February March April May
2021/2022 season - - - - - - - -
2020/2021 season - - - - - - - -
2019/2020 season - - - - - - - -
2018/2019 season - - - - - - - -
2017/2018 season - - - - - - - -
2016/2017 season 2cm
2015/2016 season 3cm
2014/2015 season 0cm
2013/2014 season 0cm
2012/2013 season 0cm
  October November December January February March April May
Niseko Now reports before Tuesday 3rd January 2017
Niseko Now reports from the same period last season
Niseko Now archived reporting
View previous reports posted to Niseko Now by clicking on the month