What is La Niña?

La Niña and El Niño are the two positive and negative phases of a naturally occurring weather pattern that is related to average ocean temperatures in the central and eastern Pacific Ocean. La Niña is considered the positive phase of the event and is caused by a cooling of the average sea surface temperature while El Niño is considered the negative phase and is caused by the warming of sea surface temperatures. In the event of either La Niña or El Niño global weather patterns tend to become more exaggerated and extreme, often sourced as the cause of tornadoes, blizzards, droughts and other extreme weather incidents around the globe. The effect of either event varies by geographic location and while the coming of La Niña presents the possibility of good weather for the Niseko area, it might spell disaster for other parts of the globe. For further reading on La Niña, see here.

Hidde Hageman Hunting For Powder Niseko Hirafu

Hunting for powder? You might be in for a treat this season!

Will La Niña affect weather conditions in Niseko?

In short–yes. Weather agencies around the globe are ranking the possibility of La Niña occuring this year between 55% and 70%. Last year, El Niño had a particularly rough effect on ski resorts in southern Japan, resulting in Niseko being the safest pick in Asia. It doesn't always occur, but La Niña often follows the occurrence of El Niño. Currently, the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) is predicting a 70% chance of the event occurring. Should La Niña occur, the likely effects will be an additional burst of cool weather, particularly in late Autumn.

La Nina 2016 The Weather Network

Image taken from The Weather Network.

What does La Niña's coming mean for my ski holiday in Niseko?

So far, Japanese international news agencies, like the Japan Times, have only focused on La Niña's summer effects which typically brings an increase of hot weather. Here in Niseko, we are all more concerned with what effect it will have on the winter! As you can see from the image above La Niña's main predicted outcome for Japan is an overall cooling. This increase of colder weather is predicted to being in late-Autumn and to lengthen the winter season! In other words, a longer and colder season in Niseko offering more stable winter conditions and more hopefully Niseko powder snow!

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