Japan The Japanese snow season 2020-2021 Weather

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Ramenman

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Tadami (Fukushima) and Sumon (Niigata) has had about +100cm in the last 48 hours. Hijiori(Yamagata) has overtaken Sukayu (Aomori), reaching 336cm of snowdepth.
 

Ramenman

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Nango (Minami Aizu, Fukushima) this morning. +100cm or more in the past few days.
Eud_kb4VoAArnT-
 
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Ramenman

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A good news and a bad news. A good news = 5 weather stations have reached 300cm or bigger + 20 weather stations have reached 200cm or bigger. A bad news is this monthly forecast. According to JMA, it's very likely to be warm. Warm is bad for skiers, but at least it's good for farmers (not always, though).
temp-00.png
 

Asama

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A good news and a bad news. A good news = 5 weather stations have reached 300cm or bigger + 20 weather stations have reached 200cm or bigger. A bad news is this monthly forecast. According to JMA, it's very likely to be warm. Warm is bad for skiers, but at least it's good for farmers (not always, though).
temp-00.png

Another warm march? Having a run of those. Starting to forget what an average March feels like.
 

Ramenman

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Another warm march? Having a run of those. Starting to forget what an average March feels like.
I already almost forgot what last March was like, however, the first - second week of April was very cold, and frequent cold rain killed my vegetables last year, I remember it!
 

Asama

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I already almost forgot what last March was like

Not all that memorable. Temperature was quite up and down (typical early spring I guess) with a few days of cold rain/snow. Tokyo had an unusually late snow accumulation. Quite a bit of snow including a couple of big dumps from wet fronts at high altitude, but quick thaw cycle.
Can't speak for the ski regions but maybe no worse than the terrible Jan/Feb in many places!
 
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Ramenman

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Local media are reporting it's likely to be very warm like May tomorrow (not all regions, though) and Tokyo's daily high temperature is likely to become 20C or higher. These are random pictures from Zao Onsen this week. Because of less people?, we see Kamoshika (the animal) more frequently this season than average season.
K.jpg



K2.jpg
 
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Jacksong

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Central Honshu has had such an up and down Feb. Very warm and often rain in between big snowfalls. Good for those who don't like clearing snow, but snow pack cannot be too stable. So far each time it snows it seems to be enough to cover the damage done from the warm patches. It's been a nice season so far.

Hokkaido forecast looking very good for the next week.
 

blowfin

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Central Honshu has had such an up and down Feb. Very warm and often rain in between big snowfalls. Good for those who don't like clearing snow, but snow pack cannot be too stable. So far each time it snows it seems to be enough to cover the damage done from the warm patches. It's been a nice season so far.

Hokkaido forecast looking very good for the next week.
Fairly normal to have that warm spell in the middle of the season somewhere.
 

Jacksong

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Fairly normal to have that warm spell in the middle of the season somewhere.

That's true but this season a bit more extreme. Really warm then really cold periods since actually around mid January. Like I said though the cold periods have been exceptional which has made the warm patches bearable.

The daily report from Myoko today puts it well "The last day of spring skiing for a while? Man, its a year of extreme changes...."
 

Sandy

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Central Honshu has had such an up and down Feb. Very warm and often rain in between big snowfalls. Good for those who don't like clearing snow, but snow pack cannot be too stable. So far each time it snows it seems to be enough to cover the damage done from the warm patches. It's been a nice season so far.

Hokkaido forecast looking very good for the next week.
IMO, Hokkaido looking BAD early next week. The bulk of the precipitation falling as heavy rain with wind on Mon 1st/early Tue up to 2000m. Then a bit of snow, followed by snow showers until Wed. (not enough to cover the frozen chunky underneath). Mainly sunny until Sunday.
 

Jacksong

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IMO, Hokkaido looking BAD early next week. The bulk of the precipitation falling as heavy rain with wind on Mon 1st/early Tue up to 2000m. Then a bit snow, followed by snow showers until Wed. (not enough to cover the frozen chunky underneath). Mainly sunny until Sunday.

We must be looking at different reports. This one is Niseko.
snowforecast.png
 
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Ramenman

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This abnormal high temperature (20C in February) forced me to drive back to Ibaraki to open the windows of our green houses (not all green houses have auto windows to avoid the temperature rising too high).
 
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Asama

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This season was doing pretty well (temperature wise, not talking about snow) until Mid Jan. Has been on the wonk since then.
"Exceptional" Feb temps have happened every year for the last 3 years now. And previously in 2016 I think. Winter seems to run out of oomph early.

Here's the temperature chart for my local.

upload_2021-2-22_11-31-33.png
 
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Jacksong

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This season was doing pretty well (temperature wise, not talking about snow) until Mid Jan. Has been on the wonk since then.
"Exceptional" Feb temps have happened every year for the last 3 years now. And previously in 2016 I think. Winter seems to run out of oomph early.

Here's the temperature chart for my local.

upload_2021-2-22_11-31-33.png

Last February was the snowiest in central Honshu for many years (with warm days too). It's all very strange though the last two years late March and early April being very cold and snowy.

It's hard to believe people visiting the area get less snow in Mid Jan than early April two years in a row.
 
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Jacksong

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No report, Direct from GFS: 1546 line over Niseko. That's a freeze level of 1800-2000m.
2021-02-22 for 2021-03-01.jpg

Fair enough, I am guilty of using snowforecast too often as it has been pretty accurate, usually under-reporting snow.

Seems to be very different to what you are showing there which I need to learn how to read.
 

blowfin

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Fair enough, I am guilty of using snowforecast too often as it has been pretty accurate, usually under-reporting snow.

Seems to be very different to what you are showing there which I need to learn how to read.
You guys were looking at different date ranges...

The rain is off the end of the Snow Forecast chart you posted. You don't need to look too hard at forecasts to see it coming (https://www.yr.no/en/forecast/daily-table/2-2128934/Japan/Niseko):
upload_2021-2-22_10-51-29.png
 

Asama

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Last February was the snowiest in central Honshu for many years (with warm days too). It's all very strange though the last two years late March and early April being very cold and snowy.

It's hard to believe people visiting the area get less snow in Mid Jan than early April two years in a row.

Ah, just to be clear I'm using "exceptional" in the sense of outliers when the temp shoots up, not the month as a whole (although last year also v warm feb overall for my part of central Honshu at least).

It's true March was in many ways just as wintry as February last year, but I think that's more down to the lack of winter in February rather than a particularly wintry March. April was indeed cold.
 

Sandy

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Fair enough, I am guilty of using snowforecast too often as it has been pretty accurate, usually under-reporting snow.

Seems to be very different to what you are showing there which I need to learn how to read.
As an approximation (just reading the charts) the vertical thickness lines can give you some idea of where the freeze level is.
Approx: 528~0m, 532~700m, 540~1400m, 546~2000m, 552~2500m+
It's not exact, but you can look at the map and read approx freeze.
Vertical thickness measures the vertical distance in deca-meters between 500-1000HPa. So 528 = 5280m. and a lower figure indicates that it's colder.
In Australia, you are looking for the 540 line, since the lowest lifts are around 1300m. In central Japan you're looking for 532 & 528, since most resort bases are around 400-700m. In Hokkaido, you're looking for 528 and below, because resort bases are around 250m.
 
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TJ

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It's hard to believe people visiting the area get less snow in Mid Jan than early April two years in a row.
Certainly not the case here in Hakuba. We have had it pretty good here for 10 weeks running. The last 3 days had some crazy winds and temps though. Snowing now but I think this week will be a bit of a dud here compared to what we have had.
What area are you in Jacksong?
 

BobGnarly

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I've been calling this season the seesaw season. It's up and down, when it's up I expect it to go down, when it's down I expect it to go up so I am never surprised and never disappointed.
I just ride the surface of the day, make my body tired and sleep well.
 
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Jacksong

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Certainly not the case here in Hakuba. We have had it pretty good here for 10 weeks running. The last 3 days had some crazy winds and temps though. Snowing now but I think this week will be a bit of a dud here compared to what we have had.
What area are you in Jacksong?

That's good to hear. I was in Hakuba for a few days in Jan and got rain unfortunately.

I have been in Myoko, Madarao, Nozawa and traveling as much as possible.
 

Jacksong

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I would often check the written daily forecasts of the main resort areas this season and if it was raining in Myoko, usually it was raining in Hakuba too. There were a few in the last 10 days of Jan. Luckily the snow in between has been exceptional so no need to worry.

Interesting that Hakuba actually received less snow this Jan than 2017,18 and 19. Just shows what a good base can do.

I see it's snowing over there today, has much accumulated?
 

TJ

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Where did you get those stats from? I'd be interested to see more.
One of the things here is that there can be a huge difference in snowfalls from one end of the valley to the other. It can also be raining in the valley but likely snowing on resort. One day a few weeks back it was a slurpee in my street and 60 cms on Tsugaike. Best reports are from people on the mountain.

On the ground reports of 30cms stashes on the top of Happo today but on an icy base. Looks like 20 on the top of tsugaike.
 

Jacksong

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Where did you get those stats from? I'd be interested to see more.
One of the things here is that there can be a huge difference in snowfalls from one end of the valley to the other. It can also be raining in the valley but likely snowing on resort. One day a few weeks back it was a slurpee in my street and 60 cms on Tsugaike. Best reports are from people on the mountain.

On the ground reports of 30cms stashes on the top of Happo today but on an icy base. Looks like 20 on the top of tsugaike.

Interesting.

It says 10cm of wet snow at Tsugaiki at 3.30pm - https://www.hakubavalley.com/en/weather/detail_tsugaike/

10cm on the Happo website at midday - https://www.happo-one.jp/en/

snowjapan is a good one, I usually find if it is raining at the base, the snow won't be good, even at the top. This is their records at Hakuba, not sure exactly where, except at the base. It's just an overview. Generally if it's accumulating at the base it's a good indication on snow quality up high. Obviously it can accumulate more, sometimes much more up high.

https://www.snowjapan.com/japan-daily-snow-weather-reports/Hakuba-Now/23rd-january-2021

hakuba.png
 

TJ

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snowjapan hey. Been pretty much discredited here over the years. The JMA measurements which they use are down near the train station which has very little correlation to what happens on the mountain.
Happo report was from a friend who was up there. No need for him to tell me porkys.
Tsugaike have a cam with a measuring stick. Just reading what that says.
"I usually find if it is raining at the base, the snow won't be good, even at the top"
By saying that I know you know very little about Hakuba. Anybody who has been here enough knows that is certainly not the case.
 

Jacksong

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snowjapan hey. Been pretty much discredited here over the years. The JMA measurements which they use are down near the train station which has very little correlation to what happens on the mountain.
Happo report was from a friend who was up there. No need for him to tell me porkys.
Tsugaike have a cam with a measuring stick. Just reading what that says.
"I usually find if it is raining at the base, the snow won't be good, even at the top"
By saying that I know you know very little about Hakuba. Anybody who has been here enough knows that is certainly not the case.

This is what is written on the snow japan website:

"Information is gathered locally by the reporters and is based on personal observations, as well as some information from local ski resorts and forecasts.

> Our reports are 100% independent. They are not official ski resort reports
> Ski resorts, or any other businesses, have no influence on the content of our reports
> We are not in the business of promoting or unfairly depicting any region.

We are not here to sell a particular region or indeed any other service, and we are very much against the idea of hyping a region, using marketing-speak and misleading people in any way. This means that if conditions are bad, then the reports will say that. Some businesses at times take issue with our honesty and we were even pressured by some to mislead or ignore any uncomfortable truths. Any such pressures do not alter how we do things - if anything they strengthen our resolve."

--

I find them quite good when I have been to Hakuba previously, they tell it as it is mostly. They also put the snowfall data from official ski resorts, but only tally their own readings from their report at the base. The only reason I mention them as they have proven reliable to me around Japan. Not the only place to look obviously.
 

Sandy

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@Jacksong @TJ
The snow as related from Snow Japan for "Hakuba" has never been accurate.

e.g. Take a look at the "Hakuba" data from Snow Japan for 2015/16.
- Total snowfall for the season: 321cm
- Total snowfall for the season up to end of Feb: 284cm
- Official maximum snow depth at Able Goryu: 270cm on 10th Feb.
So what it's saying, is that the snow DEPTH after thaws, packing down, etc, only lost 14cm!!!! Everybody knows what happens when you ride on snow..... It gets pack down to not more than half the fallen depth of snow. Even if you don't ride on it, it definitely packs down.

The only thing you can tell from the JMA weather station out in the valley, is that if there's 20cm there, you've most likely had 30cm on the base at Happo, and 40cm+ higher up.

When somebody tells me "there's been 15cm at Hakuba", I immediately ask "Where at Hakuba?".
The wind direction and strength are the most important indicators at Hakuba.
Many times, when there's been 10cm around Echoland, I've looked at the wind on the coast and if it's been a due northerly, I'll go to Cortina/Norikura, where there's been 40cm.

If you have a freash WNW breeze, it pushes 2900m over the peaks to the west, and while it's sunny in the middle of the valley (near the weather station, and even at Iwatake & Tsugaike), it'll often be snowing on the top half of Happo, Goryu/47, because of blow over snow.

See here for wind direction info:
https://www.ski.com.au/xf/threads/snow-forecasting-tutorial-for-japan.63512/
 

Donza

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Though I agree if its raining down the bottom and snowing up top you'd probably be part of a prefrontal SW type system.
Its usually pretty moist and unpleasant at altitude in that weather.
High humidity, foggy and windy.
Once that pushes through it can be great skiing down the southern end of the valley for a few hours.
 
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Asama

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Question for the weather experts (OK, I mean @Sandy ) - when we see "exceptional" weather like the consistently high temperatures (including lack of cooling overnight) as over the last couple of days - what is it that causes it to be exceptional?

E.g. is it a very unusual placement of high/low pressures? Unusually warm air for the area? Or various factors coming into alignment...

I get that April/May-like temperatures sometimes happen in February, but a casual flick through past JMA data doesn't turn up many cases where these temps sustain for 2-3 days. So does that mean something happened that doesn't normally happen?

Apologies for vague question but I hope it makes sense.
 

Sandy

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Question for the weather experts - when we see "exceptional" weather like the consistently high temperatures (including lack of cooling overnight) as over the last couple of days - what is it that causes it to be exceptional?

E.g. is it a very unusual placement of high/low pressures? Unusually warm air for the area? Or various factors coming into alignment...

I get that April/May temperatures sometimes happen in February, but a casual flick through past JMA data doesn't turn up many cases where these temps sustain for 2-3 days.
Very large high pressure to the SE of Japan. Directs southerly wind from far south.
 
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Jacksong

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Though I agree if its raining down the bottom and snowing up top you'd probably be part of a prefrontal SW type system.
Its usually pretty moist and unpleasant at altitude in that weather.
High humidity, foggy and windy.
Once that pushes through it can be great skiing down the southern end of the valley for a few hours.

It mostly comes down to what any given person will consider good snow/good conditions. I have had friends coming over from southern hemi who will go into the trees in these conditions (some people call it 'firm', I call it sheet ice) and have a blast. I would have more fun taking the gondola back down (less chance of death).

e.g. Take a look at the "Hakuba" data from Snow Japan for 2015/16.
- Total snowfall for the season: 321cm
- Total snowfall for the season up to end of Feb: 284cm
- Official maximum snow depth at Able Goryu: 270cm on 10th Feb.
So what it's saying, is that the snow DEPTH after thaws, packing down, etc, only lost 14cm!!!! Everybody knows what happens when you ride on snow..... It gets pack down to not more than half the fallen depth of snow. Even if you don't ride on it, it definitely packs down.

It seems there is confusion in how they do their reports.

'Snow Japan' take their own measurement each day, a personal observation from someone who lives locally. Some reporters (Myoko for example) use a tape measure each day from the same place, clear it afterwards and measure again the next day.

Separately, they also make a note the official information on snow depth as reported by ski resorts such as Goryu. This has nothing to do with their own report.

- Total snowfall for the season: 321cm: This is 'snow japans' measurement from their personal observation. There is no thaw or packing down, in theory it is measured each day and then cleared.

- Official maximum snow depth at Able Goryu: 270cm on 10th Feb: This is the information posted by the Goryu ski resort and noted on snowjapan website.

The two reports do not compliment each other, they are not there to be compared.

The only thing you can tell from the JMA weather station out in the valley, is that if there's 20cm there, you've most likely had 30cm on the base at Happo, and 40cm+ higher up.

If they take their reading from the JMA station, why then did JMA just report 7cm and the Snow Japan report zero cm? (probably because that 7cm never settled on the ground when Snow Japan guy measured it).

When somebody tells me "there's been 15cm at Hakuba", I immediately ask "Where at Hakuba?".

If it is dumping at base level anywhere in Hakuba and -10 celcius that is a good overall sign. The same as if it is raining and 10+ celcius anywhere in the valley, not great. Snow Japan is just a daily observation from the same place each day.

I can see why some people don't like it, given that the report is from the base. I think a report from the top is less useful and paints an unrealistic picture of overall mountain conditions. What good is 30cm at the top when freezing level is at 1500, the chairlift is closed because of wind and you're riding sheet ice just below. You're not riding at the base either, but if it's dumping at the base, it means snow depth/quality is likely to be good everywhere. It's not like the snow japan report is gospel for mountain conditions.

Your info is really helpful Sandy and much better to know which weather will work better for each individual resort.
 
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BobGnarly

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Personal happiness over the course of a season is all about having varied skillsets and applying the appropriate skillset for the conditions of the day rather than waiting for the exact set of conditions that compliment your skillset.
Even here in powder land most days are not powder days so it pays to learn to enjoy varied conditions. I actually love snow that has been rained on, its so creamy and very fast to ride before it freezes so I am always out there on rainy days.
 
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BobGnarly

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Im posting this here because Im not allowed to post in the appropriate threads.

It seems niseko is having a covid cluster right now.
Mods feel free to move the post if you can find a better place.
Screenshot_20210224-104733_Internet.jpg
 

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Donza

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Im posting this here because Im not allowed to post in the appropriate threads.

It seems niseko is having a covid cluster right now.
Mods feel free to move the post if you can find a better place.
Screenshot_20210224-104733_Internet.jpg
I'll chuck it in the covid thread.
 
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Froff Life

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I really enjoy the daily reports on the ground from Snow Japan. I find the majority of the reporters give a no BS observation of the conditions, and some of the better ones will even point out their favourite spots to ski that day, given the weather and snow conditions.
A great resource IMO
 
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