No new snow to report this morning though it was snowing ever so lightly earlier on - and it is feeling cold.
Winter would seem to be on it's way back (thank you!) with snow expected overnight and through tomorrow and then later on Friday into Saturday. And then some decent snow currently forecast as we enter the new week.
If the forecast turns out to be right, it might be enough to really change things here. And I am looking forward to bringing you that news over the coming days.
Official snow depths at Shiga Kogen resort areas (Wednesday 6th January 2016):
Cloudy skies, a few breaks in the cloud just as I post this
Good morning from Niseko. The days are flying by aren't they?
This morning there's 15cm of fresh snowfall outside my place here in Hirafu. It's mostly just cloudy at the moment though it was snowing earlier and may well be soon again. Perhaps it will be one of those days when it's on-off snowfall. The fresh snow that we have this morning looks like good stuff as well - nice and dry and light - so it should be a very fine start out on the mountain.
I don't always check but it looks from the webcam like people were starting to gather at the Ace Number 2 lift since before 8am when I started putting this report together - first lifts up have that certain allure don't they, especially when there's fresh snow to play in. I hope they took a flask of hot tea and some onigiri for the wait.
Fairly light wind this morning here at base though Niseko Annupuri and Niseko Village seem to be reporting stronger winds (14m/s) on their upper areas. Still, all four of the resort areas appear to be opening as normal at the start of the day. Hopefully we'll see no lift disruption due to wind conditions -- like we had with some lifts at times during the day yesterday.
The weekly forecast remains pretty much unchanged so we are expecting regular and consistent snowfall through the coming week. It might get even colder over the weekend so come prepared. One thing that can spoil a day for me is being too cold.
It's now 8:30am and I am just about to post this report. Thought I would mention that I can see a bit of blue sky out there now and the sun is breaking through in places. It should be a good morning, hope you can enjoy it.
After that really great end to the year with that run of five days when I was able to report 20+cm of fresh each day, it's been a generally more modest but respectable start to January. Including today I have observed 38cm since we entered 2016. Remember, last year I observed 257cm for the whole of the month of January 2015, and I observed 461cm for the whole of the month of January 2014.
It looks like lots of people have been entering the private tour giveaway ( details here ), and there have been lots of Niseko related comments sent on as well. Any report related ones are sent to me and there have been quite a few. Thank you for all your comments.
A few of you even very kindly offered to take me out for some beer when you are here in Niseko, which is very nice. As much as I would like to - and as much as I do like beer, especially when someone buys it for me - I choose to keep my identity unknown. If someone in Niseko tells you they know who writes these reports, they are making it up... they do not know. The reason for this anonymity? Mainly because some (lots of) folk would treat me differently if they knew I did these reports. When we aren't getting snow or it's raining and basically things aren't going 'perfectly', I of course very clearly talk about those things. At those times some people take issue with what I have to say, even suggesting that those things are conveniently not mentioned. An attitude that I dislike a lot. Luckily for you guys reading this, I'm not here to sell you Niseko.
So while it would be a lot of fun to meet people and for them to buy me lots of beer... but thank you again!
Resort specific news/notes at time of writing (subject to change during the day):
Niseko base 6am: -7℃, light wind, 10cm of new snow and no snowdrift development. Moiwa 800m: -8℃, 10cm snowfall, moderate development of snowdrift. Annupuri 1150m: -11℃, W12-15m/s, 40cm of snowdrifts. Hirafu 1000m: -10℃, 10cm snowfall, moderate development of snowdrifts. Coastal data: Benkei cape WNW13m/s, Kamui cape SW12m/s, 1015hPa, 2.1m waves.
There are no notable snow-clouds around Niseko area. All top gates except gates 1 & 2 In Annupuri are scheduled to open today. Listen to the patrol’s instruction before stepping out of the gates and be aware that you are going out of bounds at your own risk. Consequences can be more severe than you expect, better not take the winter mountains too easy.
Do not cut across cornice slopes or knolls. Keep ample spacing between riders and ride one by one. Avalanches run along the valleys, stay away from the valley bottom. Snow is still insufficient and the creeks are still running fast. Many holes are still present, be careful not to fall. Please don’t take beginners in hazardous areas such as the Backbowl, leaders are responsible for the whole group’s safety. Have you turned your beacon on? Have a nice day.
Official resort snow depths as of Wednesday 6th January 2016:
Grand Hirafu / Hanazono: Top - 260cm Base - 120cm
Niseko Village: Top - 190cm Base - 100cm
Niseko Annupuri: Top - 130cm Base - 100cm
Lifts planned to be open for night skiing:
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)
Hello from here in Nozawa where we have no new snow in the village and the resort reporting 1cm again up top. We're going to need slightly bigger numbers than that...
The weather the last few days has not been kind to the snow and snow conditions as you may well expect.
This morning there is a lot of low cloud and 'gas' around - visibility is better on the upper Yamabiko area than it is down here near base. Cloud is forecast for today and it will be colder than it has been... you can feel that early on. There is just a slight northerly breeze at the moment. Fingers crossed snow will be falling tonight and I will have some numbers to report to you in my report tomorrow.
Things are looking up. The forecast is good for snowfall tomorrow and then a very good weekend and early next week is likely. Temperatures are going to drop to something more like what we expect in January.
Don't be fooled by the last few days, it looks like a real change is on the way. :)
Everyone is highly expectant and in no mood to be disappointed; hopefully by the end of the weekend the situation will be very different to the current one.
Official info at time of writing on Wednesday 6th January 2016 (subject to change):
There is some fresh snow to report this morning from Madarao. Just 4cm outside my place and Madarao Kogen is this morning stating 5-10cm of fresh on the slopes. Better than 0cm!
It is colder as well this morning.
There's quite a lot of cloud around but also some blue skies.
More snow is on the way with the weekly forecast still tempting us with the promise of snow tonight and tomorrow, as we get into the weekend and Sunday/Monday as well. I like the looks of 'moderate snowfall' on the forecast; 'heavy snow' is even better. Let's hope it happens.
For now that new snowfall has probably filled over a few patches but of course not enough to transform the situation.
It is a cloudy start to the day here, lots of interesting low clouds here and there seemingly hovering over the village at the moment - will surely look good from higher up looking down. Happily no strong winds it would seem today and it's calm down here in the village.
There was some fresh snow on higher slopes during the day yesterday, with the snow falling very nicely at times. Hakuba 47 were reporting 5cm during the day yesterday. The snow continued into the evening but it seems that it didn't last for long. But anyway resorts reporting 1-10cm of snow this morning on upper slope areas.
Let's take a look at that forecast. It's still looking promising everyone! From tomorrow, could we be looking at a run of days with regular snowfall, and some heavy snow particularly around Sunday? We could be, let's all look forward to it.
I have updated what I can below (as I do each day). Resorts are still struggling with the current situation but if we get decent and consistent snowfall through into next week, the situation will change dramatically.
Resort news as of 8:45am on Wednesday 6th January 2015 (all subject to change due to weather conditions)
Hakuba 47: Hakuba 47 is reporting 5cm of fresh snowfall on upper areas. They were reporting 5cm yesterday afternoon too... All courses apart from Route 7 officially open. Tree Riding Zone not yet open for the season. Official snow depth Upper: 95cm Base: 5cm
Hakuba Goryu: Hakuba Goryu is reporting 10cm of new snowfall on upper slopes. Panorama, Grand Prix, Super Course in upper area, the main Toomi course and the Soft Cream course in the Iimori area are planned to be open. The upper-lower connecting Champion Dynamic and Woody courses are unfortunately closed due to the snow conditions. Planned lifts: Telecabin Gondola Alps Number 1 pair lift Alps Number 2/4 pair lift Alps Number 3 pair lift Toomi Sky Four lift Toomi Number 1 pair lift Toomi Number 2 pair lift Milky Four lift Official snow depth Alps: 115cm Toomi: 35cm Iimori: 25cm
Hakuba Happo-one: Usagidaira, Kurobishi, Panorama, Skyline, Kita One and Riesen Slalom areas are planned to be open with lower course areas still closed. Take one of the Gondola, Kokusai Number 1 pair, Sakka Kitaone quad or Nakiyama Number 3 triple lifts to get back down to base. Planned lifts: Adam Gondola Alpen quad lift Usagidaira pair lift Happo Riesen quad Nakiyama Number 3 triple Kurobishi Number 2 quad lift Kurobishi Number 3 pair lift Skyline Number 2 pair lift Kokusai Number 1 lift Kokusai Number 3 lift Panorama pair lift Kita One quad lift Kita One Number 3 pair lift Official snow depth Usagidaira: 60cm Nakiyama: 10cm Sakka: 5cm
Hakuba Cortina: Hakuba Cortina reporting 1cm of fresh snow. Courses open - Ikenota, Ikenota Forest (upper), Mt Hieda Forest, Mt Hieda 1 (lower), Itadaira, Itadaira Forest. Planned lifts: Number 2 quad lift Number 4 pair lift Number 5 pair lift Official snow depth Top: 100cm Base: 50cm
Tsugaike Kogen: Large sections of Tsugaike Kogen are now at least part open. Planned lifts: Most lifts now operating at Tsugaike Kogen. The top part of the Gondola and Tsuga Number 1 and 2 pair lifts are on hold early on due to strong winds. Official snow depth Tsuga-no-mori: 107cm Kane-no-naru-oka: 20cm
Hakuba Iwatake Snow Field: Very limited area of the Mountain Side (East course) is currently open. Planned lifts: Noah Gondola 4Sen Line East Line Lift Official snow depth Upper: 50cm Lower: 10cm
Hakuba Norikura Onsen: Official snow depth 40cm 3 lifts are operating and 3 courses are now open at Hakuba Norikura Onsen.
Yesterday brought some more snow that actually stayed around for more than a few hours.
The windy conditions that have plagued us for a week now are abating somewhat which should make for a more enjoyable on mountain experience and more importantly keep the main Gondola running full time. The official snow depth has seen an increase in 5cm, meagre but very much needed.
Today brings lighter winds but temperatures that should decrease from the mid afternoon into the early morning.
Snow is forecast for the rest of the week and the coming weekend and we are all eagerly awaiting the opening of the rest of the runs on the mountain.
Currently operating lifts:
- Appi Gondola - Central Number 1 quad - Number 2 lift A - Number 2 lift B - Number 3 lift B - Number 4 lift
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Appi Kogen resort is located in Hachimantai in the north western area of Iwate Prefecture in the Tohoku region. We are very pleased to be able to start our daily reporting from this region of Japan. More information on Appi Kogen can be found here.
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Wednesday 6th January 2016, 9:10am
Today's weather is overcast with the cloud cover at a relatively low level meaning that if you head up the gondola today you will probably be in it.
Good morning from Naeba everyone.
Well the snow forecast predicted some snowfall overnight, and that did turn out to be accurate. Unfortunately the amount of snow that actually fell in town turned out to be less than a cm.
The snow forecast for the coming week however is looking better and better with snow showers expected over the next few days and a heavy couple of dumps predicted for the weekend. It should be getting colder again with a return to more winter-like conditions.
Everyone is hoping that is what we will get as it's still generally thin on the ground.
Hello from Zao and there was 4cm of fresh snow measured outside my place this morning.
Not a huge amount but better than none and there is more on the way according to the forecast. For the moment it is just generally cloudy here with no snow falling. I am pleased to be able to report that is it definitely colder this morning and over the next week it would seem that the temperatures will gradually continue to fall.
Wind may be an issue over the coming week as well and it is quite windy this morning.
Most importantly, as I said there's snow on the forecast over the coming days. We're just going to have to wait and hope that it's a decent amount...
I am hearing comments from lots of locals who have been here longer than I that they cannot remember a New Year with as little snow in Zao as this year. It is worrying. And it seems that the low snow count this season so far is not just this region but most snow resort regions on Honshu, from what I can gather. (Hokkaido seems to be doing pretty good from what I can see on the Now reports from those regions).
Here's to a change in that story, and soon!
Information as of Wednesday 6th January 2016 (subject to change)
Most of the lifts at Zao Onsen are now operating. Most areas of Zao Onsen are now at least part open but snow is pretty thin on the ground and patchy in lower areas of the resort. The areas that remain 'closed' are Ryuzan, Omori and Kotan.
There's no new snow to report and the high-up Kagura resort is reporting just a dusting of snow overnight. Maiko Snow Resort actually reporting 3cm. We of course need much more than that and fingers crossed it is on the way over the next few days.
I am of course very much looking forward to start bringing you news of fresh snow once again. All being well, that will start tomorrow with snow due to start falling overnight tonight and through the day tomorrow. A high of 3C is expected tomorrow in town so I wouldn't expect light powder but will sure will take it. After tomorrow going into Saturday there should be more snow and then Sunday through Monday looks promising as well. Colder conditions are also expected to be back with us and we will welcome them with open arms.
What we need of course is regular and consistent snowfall, something that usually we have no problems getting. Let's hope that the next 5+ days brings that kind of weather for us.
Back to today and it's generally cloudy, with a lot of low cloud still hanging around this morning. We had rain falling last night but that has eased off this morning.
It does feel colder this morning though which is a good start. There are hints that we might get some sunshine today but the forecast generally remains as 'cloudy'.
Most resorts are struggling with the lack of snow. Some lower courses are now either not open or getting narrow and struggling to remain open and might have to if there is no refill soon. Here's some few resort specific information, by no means complete but hopefully of help to get an idea of where resorts are at this moment:
The Kagura resort areas remain (close to) fully open; A fair section of Naeba is open, connection with Tashiro remains just about open; The Central and North areas of GALA Yuzawa are mostly open (the downhill Falcon course is not open); All of the lifts and six out of eight courses at Yuzawa Kogen are open; Most of the courses at Kandatsu Kogen are open; Most of the central area of Iwappara is open (top area not open); Four courses at NASPA Ski Garden area open with four lifts operating; Most of Ishiuchi Maruyama is open but some lower areas closed (in those places get the lift back down); The upper Okusoeji area and part of the Maiko area of Maiko Snow Resort are open (get the gondola back down from Okusoeji); Large parts of Joetsu Kokusai are open.
It's sad having to report this kind of thing in early January. One of the things that makes this lack of fresh snow so difficult is that we usually get huge amounts of regular snow here in this region, so this situation is far from normal.
Anyway, thinking positive! Here's to lots of snow in the coming week and a return to a proper 'Snow Country'.
Resort official snow depths (Wednesday 6th January 2016) and any specific news:
All resorts in the area are now generally open for the season, though please note that some areas and courses are not open. Generally steeper slopes that need more snow are still closed. The lack of fresh snow and warmer conditions we have been experiencing also means that some lower areas are getting increasingly patchy.
Some new powder snow overnight though not a huge amount - not enough to cover the icy conditions that previous rain had given us. But still nice to see some fresh, and hopefully there is more on the way in the next few days. The forecast is shaping up very nicely at the moment. Snow every day in the coming week... that sounds good. We'll have that please.
It is just cloudy this morning but snow should be falling tonight and through the day tomorrow. Might ease a little first thing Friday but be back for the three day weekend (Monday is a national holiday in Japan). The forecast currently indicates that there may be heavy snow on the way along with some really cold conditions.
A proper winter storm!
Gondola Number 1 quad Number 2 quad Number 3 quad
(A-a) Rainbow 3500 (A-b) Rainbow 3500 (A-c) Rainbow 3500 (B-a) Mint (B-c) Mint (C) Center (D-b) Lavender (F) Basil
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As with all our Now daily reports, it extremely important to us that the information we publish is useful, honest and correct and we’ll be doing everything we can to bring you some good info from this region. Grandeco is located in Kita Shiobara village in the north western region of Fukushima Prefecture - we are very pleased to be able to begin reporting from this region of Japan. More information on Grandeco can be found here and a Resort Spotlight on SnowJapan here. Read more ...
Wednesday 6th January 2016, 14:02pm
Snowclouds today but we might see the sun tomorrow for a while.
Furano might get to see some sun tomorrow.
Light, dry snow has fallen today and it still falling at present down in Kitanomine.
The resort published this morning that it was snowing up top and cloudy down bottom at 7am. They list their base at 2.5m at the top and 1.3m at the bottom.
I just took a look outside and Kitanomine base is uncrowded, it is snowing densely but small, dry flakes, and there is no wind. The snow is falling vertically to the ground.
The resort is reporting 15cm fresh at the top and 5cm fresh at the bottom.
Temperatures here were also at 7am.
We would just like to mention that we noticed some inaccuracies in the ‘observed snowfall’ number data that had been logged in some of the Furano reports over the last few weeks. It appears that there were a few (of course unintentionally) incorrect numbers added for this number, which represents the amount of snowfall observed at base areas.
We have made appropriate checks and adjustments and feel that these numbers have now been corrected.
It is of course very important to us that what is published on SnowJapan reports is accurate and as such would like to apologise for this situation. Thank you! Read more ...