Snow and weather reports posted on Friday 24th May 2019
Friday 1st April 2016, 7:31am
Good morning from Madarao Kogen.
Yesterday we enjoyed some fine weather on what was the last day of the 2015-2016 season for Madarao Kogen (neighbouring Tangram Ski Circus is open through until Sunday). And this will be my last report of the 2015-2016 season.
Once a season gets started, it really does flash by way too quickly - mostly from having so much fun, though this season there were other things going on… things that we really are not used to!
It has definitely been something of a unique season for this region and indeed many areas of Japan. This season definitely ‘wins’ the unwanted award for ‘the least snow during a season’ of recent times at least, and locals of quite an age will also be hard pushed to remember a season with as little snowfall as during 2015-2016.
There was of course snow – and indeed in amounts that some ski resorts in other parts of the world would be glad to get. And I have enjoyed some very fine days this last season, and I know lots of other people who have visited and had a great time.
The difference this last season has been that there just wasn’t much of that full-on, almost overwhelmingly heavy and consistent snowfall that we are used to (and so love) in this region. Yes, we are usually spoilt; but we like being spoilt!
‘Less snow’ was not just an issue for this part of northern Nagano Prefecture either with most ski resort areas of the main island of Honshu receiving less snow than usual in this ‘danto’ (or ‘mild winter’).
Here’s the amount of snow that I have observed over the past three seasons here in Madarao:
2015-2016 season: 483cm total 2014-2015 season: 1055cm total 2013-2014 season: 734cm total
As you can see, this season I observed less than half of the total amount of snow that I did last season. That’s pretty significant, even considering that last year was quite famous for being one of particularly abundant snowfall. The season before we still got about 1.5 times the amount of snow that we did this season.
Just going back to that comment about ‘being spoilt’. We’re not used to worrying about snowfall – it just falls, and usually in huge amounts - but this season everyone was, and it was a constant topic of conversation throughout the season.
It has to be said that the resort did an excellent job in keeping open and the slopes in decent condition until the end of March as originally planned.. helped along by a decent amount of March snowfall (more than in March last year actually!), and of course lots of hard work and effort.
I think the main point to take from this season wrap report is this...
If you are reading researching about Madarao Kogen - and indeed any of the other regions covered in the reports on SnowJapan - please do take the time to look back at previous seasons to get an idea of what is ‘normal’ or ‘average’. Because 2015/2016 was certainly not ‘normal’ or ‘average’.
Archived reports going back 6 seasons can be found at the bottom of this page.
Let’s hope we get back to normal next season. I’m confident we will!
In the meantime, I hope you have a great spring and summer and I hope to see you back here in late autumn.
Good morning from Niseko, and what a beautiful morning it is as well.
Here I am with an early report - calm conditions allow me this luxury and I plan to hit those first lifts myself!
So it's clear blue skies all around, mild conditions, just a bit of a breeze down here at the moment - hopefully it'll be calm higher up as well though I do notice some local reports saying to expect stronger winds later on.
Tomorrow should also be sunny, but we still have rain on the forecast for Sunday (possibly snow higher up if we are lucky).
Have a fine day.
As we are now into April, it's time to take a bit of a look back at March - how the month was for snowfall, and how the season looks as a whole up until now.
Here's my observed snowfall numbers, recorded by myself here at Hirafu base:
November 2015: 61cm November 2014: 30cm November 2013: 123cm
December 2015: 244cm December 2014: 519cm December 2013: 275cm
January 2016: 303cm January 2015: 257cm January 2014: 461cm
February 2016: 266cm February 2015: 196cm February 2014: 178cm
March 2016: 109cm March 2015: 139cm March 2014: 113cm
So the numbers for March are just slightly less than the previous two months, but nothing too major...
15/16 season so far (at end March 2016): 986cm 14/15 season so far (at end March 2015): 1141cm 13/14 season so far (at end March 2014): 1150cm
As you can see we are still a good 1.5m behind last season and the season before looking at the season as a whole. Close on 10m of snowfall at base is still rather impressive though isn't it? Even more so when you also consider how so many other resorts in Japan have been struggling in this 'mild winter'!
Here's a look at the official March snowfall numbers published by the Japan Meteorological Agency. As always, these numbers are taken from Kutchan town which is at a slightly lower elevation than my observations here at Hirafu base.
March 2016: 125cm March 2015: 141cm March 2014: 118cm March 2013: 124cm March 2012: 79cm March 2011: 210cm March 2010: 214cm March 2009: 126cm March 2008: 38cm March 2007: 160cm
I make the average of the above numbers over the last 10 seasons to be 134cm, so March has been 'just below average' this season.
15/16 season so far at end of March 2016: 823cm 14/15 season so far at end of March 2015: 966cm 13/14 season so far at end of March 2014: 922cm 12/13 season so far at end of March 2013: 1024cm 11/12 season so far at end of March 2012: 1016cm 10/11 season so far at end of March 2011: 1020cm 09/10 season so far at end of March 2010: 1078cm 08/09 season so far at end of March 2009: 973cm 07/08 season so far at end of March 2008: 887cm 06/07 season so far at end of March 2007: 679cm
And there we go.
We can't expect much in terms of fresh snowfall in April, though there is usually some - from just a dusting up to 20-30cm or so. Any fresh now would be great. Let's have some of it please!
Resort specific lift opening news at time of posting (subject to change during the day):
Niseko Grand Hirafu resort area lift operations from Monday 4th April:
Ace Family Pair (8:30am-4:30pm) - until 10th April Ace Number 2 Center Four Quad (8:30am-4:30pm) Ace Number 3 Pair (8:40am-4:30pm) Ace Number 4 Pair (8:50am-4:30pm) Holiday Number 1 Pair (8:30am-4:30pm) - until 10th April
Niseko Grand Hirafu are also going to be 'upgrading' the King Number 3 triple lift in time for next season. The Hirafu Gondola as well as the King Number 3 and 4 lifts will all finish for the season this coming Sunday, as well as the Hanazono area. All being well though, the Niseko Grand Hirafu area should be open until 5th May.
Niseko Village plans to be open daily until Sunday 3rd April, and then from 29th April until 5th May. Morino Chair currently rested.
Niseko Annupuri plans to be open until Thursday 5th May.
It's a bright morning but I almost can't tell if it's just hazy or overcast. Or maybe both! But the sun is out and it's a warm morning already. Yesterday I was driving along Route 17 near Ishiuchi and the temperature message board said... 20C! Similarly warm conditions are forecast for today along with these sunny conditions continuing. Maybe slightly less warm tomorrow, but still sunny.
Yesterday was also the last day of the season for NASPA Ski Garden and (not surprisingly) Yuzawa Park as well. A few more resorts plan to continue on until the end of Sunday and then we will just be left with Kagura, GALA Yuzawa and Kandatsu Kogen.
Rain is due sometime between later on Sunday and Monday and there's a good chance that it'll be rain up at Kagura as well.
Resort official snow depths (Friday 1st April 2016):
Lower slopes around town now have little or no snow on them, though higher areas still enjoy good snow cover. Best to head high. Some of the below official snow depths seem a little... optimistic... with some surrounding areas at lower resorts closer to 0cm.
Resorts that are not listed below are now closed for the season.
Resorts in Yuzawa and Minamiuonuma:
GALA Yuzawa Central Area and part of North Area remain open. Plans to be part open until Sunday 8th May 110cm
Iwappara Middle area only remains open Plans to be part open (upper areas only) daily until Sunday 3rd April 35cm
Joetsu Kokusai Just the north Panorama area open (access to the open area via the quad lift in front of the hotel) Plans to be part open daily until Sunday 3rd April 70cm
Kagura Plans to be open until 29th May (via Mitsumata; until 8th May via Tashiro) 160cm (Mitsumata) 190cm (Tashiro) 220cm (Kagura)
Well there's just a few days left of season and the weather is once again absolutely brilliant.
Conditions out there aren't great and Naeba is now running on limited snow, however it's still possible to ski out there as long as you take care.
The best place to ski is definitely still up the top of the gondola where the snow coverage is in general much better.
Please be aware that whilst Naeba is posting an official snow depth of 80 cm of snow, that is only at the top of the mountain and even then I'm pretty sure the measurement has been taken through the top of a snow man. In reality the snow is not all that deep in most places so venturing away from the groomed trails is a pretty bad idea unless you like rock skiing.
Looking on the weather is meant to stay clear from now until Sunday night/Monday morning which means that we should have a clear run until the end of season concerning rain.
Naeba has announced that it's season will end on Sunday 4th April - no opening beyond then due to the low snow levels this year - and so there's just over a week and a half to go. Kagura will of course be continuing beyond that date, accessible via the Mitsumata and Tashiro Ropeways Read more ...
Friday 1st April 2016, 8:36am
Hazy and sunny
Good morning from Hakuba.
It's a hazy but bright morning here and once again destined to quickly warm up, with a high of about 15C expected later on in the day. And it seems that the forecast tomorrow is very similar.
Sunday currently has some rain on the forecast, especially as we get into the evening and overnight into Monday. Come Tuesday clearer sunny skies should be back.
The Hakuba Norikura resort was hoping to be open until Sunday 3rd April, but snow melt has eventually won out and yesterday ended up being their last day of the season.
Resort news as of 8:30am on Friday 1st April 2016 (where available, all subject to change due to weather conditions)
Hakuba 47: All courses at Hakuba 47 remain open. The Tree Riding Zone is now closed for the season. Official snow depth: Upper: 165cm Base: 50cm
Hakuba Goryu: The top area of Goryu remains open. Lower main Toomi also remaining open; Iimori is closed. Nighta is now finished for the season. Official snow depth Alps: 215cm Toomi: 65cm Iimori: -cm
Hakuba Happo-one: The lower Nakiyama, Shirakaba North, Central Course, Kokusai, Sakka, Olympic Course II and Kita One areas are closed. The Nakiyama South and Shirakaba South lower courses remain open (very limited snow). All of upper mountain courses remain all open. Official snow depth: Usagidaira: 135cm Nakiyama: 30cm
Hakuba Cortina: Courses open - Ikenota, Mt Hieda Forest, Mt Hieda 1 and Itadaira. Official snow depth: Top: 120cm Base: 40cm
Tsugaike Kogen: Areas open: Oya-no-hara, Maruyama, Han-no-ki and Tsuga-no-mori The top Tsugaike Ropeway is now open for spring season (extra charge required). Official snow depth: Tsuga-no-mori: 190cm Maruyama: -cm Kane-no-naru-oka: -cm
The cherry blossoms are blooming in Tokyo, but there is still snow to ride in Urabandai.
At Grandeco this morning the temperatures are a bit cooler than they have been in the past few days which should keep the snow fast. The sun is out again, so bring your sunscreen and be careful not to end up with a sunburn.
All the courses are groomed packed snow warming up to spring conditions. You can still ski from top to bottom on over 4km of vertical terrain. Only the #4 Lift has closed for the season and the Lavender Courses A & B are also closed respectively. Today is the last day for the Lavender #28 course.
The new 50m spring session halfpipe, 7m table top and skate style obstacle park opens today at 10am. It will be continually maintained by the park team over the course of the day and will stay open until 3pm.
The main beginner and intermediate park area are also still open and freshly groomed.
There might be some rain over the weekend, particularly later on Sunday and Monday.
Lift 4 has closed for the season, all other lifts operating
Resorts that remain open in the region are Grandeco, Nekoma and Minowa.
Nekoma will be closed between 19th-21st and 26th-28 April but these resorts all plan to be open until 5th May ---- whether they can do that or not will totally depend on the snow levels of course, which are less than usual and less than expected. Read more ...
Friday 1st April 2016, 8:51am
Morning from Zao.
The sun is out and it's going to be another warm day. If the forecasts are correct, there's a chance of some light rain at times tomorrow, and a higher chance of potentially heavy rain late Sunday into Monday.
A number of lifts are starting their spring-summer-autumn holidays from today with a few more lifts going to join them at the end of Sunday as things start to wind down for the last part of the season.
There's some patches of ground starting to show through now on lower slopes, but still very good cover in higher areas.
Information as of Friday 1st April 2016 (subject to change)
Planned closing dates of lifts at Zao Onsen (subject to change due to snow conditions)
Open until Sunday 3rd April: Onsen Number 1 pair lift Onsen Number 2 quad lift Shobunuma Number 2 pair lift
Open until Sunday 10th April: Mikaeri pair lift Yokokura Number 1 pair AB lift
Open until Sunday 17th April: Kurohime Number 1 quad lift
Open until Thursday 5th May: Chuo Number 1 pair lift AB Chuo Number 2 pair lift AB (daily until 3rd April and then Sat/Sun and holidays only) Katakai triple lift (daily until 3rd April and then Sat/Sun and holidays only) Paradise pair AB lift (daily until 3rd April and then Sat/Sun and holidays only) Utopia Number 2 pair lift
The Zao Ropeway, Sky Cable gondola and Chuo Ropeway are all open throughout the year (apart from specific maintenance periods)
Lifts not mentioned in the above list have already closed for the season. Read more ...
Shiga Kogen Now!
Friday 1st April 2016, 8:59am
Good morning from Shiga Kogen.
The sun is out and it's a fine morning, if somewhat hazy.
More sunshine forecast for tomorrow but expect some rain Sunday night into Monday morning.
In a bit of resort news that I have just noticed, it seems that Yakebitaiyama has decided to have this coming Sunday as their last day of the season. They have been known to be open during the Golden Week holidays in early May, but have made the decision not to this season. It remains to be seen how the snow will last over the next month of course so there may well be adjustments for the other resorts that hope to be open until Golden Week.
As you can see from the list below, there's quite a few areas that will be open for their last day of the season on Sunday.
Come Monday, it'll feel like we are into the last stretch of the season.
Spring season dates for Shiga Kogen resort areas (subject to change):
Sun Valley Both Sun Valley lifts plan to be operating until Sunday 3rd April.
Maruike The Number 1 triple lift plans to be operating until Sunday 3rd April.
Giant The pair lift plans to be operating until Sunday 3rd April.
Higashitateyama The Gondola plans to be operating until Sunday 3rd April.
Bunadaira The quad lift plans to be operating until Sunday 3rd April.
Takamagahara Mammoth The quad lift plans to be operating until Sunday 8th May (* Saturdays and Sundays only from 11th April until 28th April).
Tannenomori Okojo The quad lift plans to be operating until Sunday 8th May.
Ichinose Family The Ichinose quad lift plans to be operating until Sunday 8th May. The Ichinose Number 2 pair A lift plans to be operating until Sunday 3rd April. The Ichinose Number 2 pair B lift plans to be operating until Sunday 8th May.
Terakoya The Terakoya lifts plan to be operating until Sunday 8th May (* Saturdays and Sundays only from 4th April until 28th April).
Ichinose Diamond The Ichinose Diamond quad lift plans to be operating until Sunday 8th May (* Saturdays and Sundays only from 4th April until 28th April).
Ichinose Yamanokami Ichinose Yamanokami plans to be open until Sunday 3rd April.
Yakebitaiyama Yakebitaiyama plans to be open until Sunday 3rd April.
Okushiga Kogen The Okushiga Kogen Number 1 pair lift plans to be operating until Sunday 3rd April. The Okushiga Kogen Number 2, 3 and 4 pair lifts plan to be operating until Sunday 8th May. The Okushiga Kogen Number 6 pair lift plans to be operating until Sunday 24th April. The Okushiga Kogen Gondola lift plans to be operating until Sunday 8th May.
Kumanoyu The Kumanoyu Number 1 pair lift plans to be operating until Sunday 3rd April. The Kumanoyu Number 2 pair A and B lifts plan to be operating until Sunday 8th May. The Kumanoyu Number 3 quad lift plans to be operating until Sunday 3rd April; and then on 9th, 10th, 16th, 17th, 23rd, 24th April and from 29th April until 8th May.
Yokoteyama & Shibutoge The Yokoteyama Number 1 Sky A and B lifts plan to be operating until Sunday 8th May. The Yokoteyama Number 2 and 3 Sky lifts plan to be operating until Sunday 8th May (and perhaps beyond depending on snow conditions). The Yokoteyama Number 4 pair lift plans to be operating until Thursday 5th May. The Shibutoge lift plans to be operating until Sunday 8th May (and perhaps beyond depending on snow conditions).
The view from the town looking toward the resort this morning is just picture perfect with not a cloud to be seen over the mountain.
The morning has started off above freezing and will reach a high of around 9c today. The sun is out in all of its glory and should stay with us through the day. Snow conditions will be soft spring snow from the morning and I would expect it will get pretty slushy on the lower mountain.
Tomorrow's weather is also looking pretty good with a mix of cloud and sun, but Sunday will be a contrast to the good weather with heavy rain on the radar for the morning. Read more ...
Friday 1st April 2016, 10:03am
Blue skies, scattered clouds
Warm, spring weather today as the finishing touches are put on the bowl and half pipe at Tenjin for this weekend's Minakami Vibes event.
Honshu pros along with anyone who wants to join in the fun.
Next year's boards will be available for testing, there is a big party at the base on Saturday night and the end of season festivities continue Sunday.
Looks like we may just scrape in with the weather.
Saturday is forecast to be clear, Sunday morning clear, light rain to come in Some time in the PM on Sunday before the weather gets ugly Sunday night through Tuesday with a lot of rain.
Just Tenjindaira, Minakami Kogen Ski Resort and Minakami Hodaigi remain (at least part) open for now. All other resorts in Minakami are now closed.
Man it's warm out there.... I want you to appreciate just how much I want to do something April Foolish, but this is a serious news source. So here’s the real news - it’s warm, the snow is melting like crazy, and we’re down to about half of our resorts still running.
That’s going to go down to two still operating after this weekend, but I wonder how long they really can keep going. Give them credit, though, for doing their best to serve the sliding-crazy (and the parking lot up here at Akakan will probably fill up again this weekend!)
Looks like rain late Sunday and into Monday, but otherwise pretty steady, sunny, warm weather.
Akakura Kanko: 7° / 150cm; Sky Cable, No. 2 and 3 lifts; Champion side closed
Akakura Onsen: 10° / 130cm; running until April 3, with all the main lifts running; Ginrei section closed