The global ski and snowboard community has been on high alert, watching and worrying over where fresh powder can be found early this winter season. The last couple weeks have had a lot of us, here in Niseko and around the globe, anxiously checking our calendars and wondering about the snow. It was an unusually warm November and there are many reasons for this. One of the factors that might have contributed to the slow start to the season was the big El Nino that is said to be the "strongest El Nino in 50 years" according to AccuWeather. The linked article discusses how the enormous weather movement is increasing the chance for a white Christmas in the U.S. but more importantly, we all want to know what this means for the winter season here in Japan!
How has all of this affected Japan's ski resorts?
El Nino tends to throw normal weather patterns in a loop and the results can often be even more unpredictable than typical weather variation.
MountainWatch had a prediction for Japan, back in October. They turned to their affiliate publication The Grasshopper which they quoted as saying "you might expect 5% less snow during an El Nino year compared with an average year." That is a bit of a heavy blow for many skiers and snowboarders, but keep in mind here in Niseko we average 15 meters of snow a year so 5% doesn't even bring us down a full meter!
MountainWatch even recommends that their readers "err on the side of caution and go for Niseko if you want to maximize your chances of deep powder!" - to which I say, thank you MountainWatch, we are inclined to agree with this recommendation, too.
Well, fast-forward 2 months and it would seem that MountainWatch was right with their recommendation!
Japan has been hit pretty hard in many places further south. Both the Japan Times and The Asahi Shimbun have written up articles on the grim reality facing slope-seekers in Eastern and Central Japan. Temperatures as high as 20 degrees have made maintaining a snow base impossible.
So, the best place to ski in asia is?
But you already knew the answer when you clicked; the best place to ski in Asia is without a doubt here in Niseko, Hokkaido! We can't say that we haven't felt a bit of El Nino's fury. Last week snowfall changed to rain, but the snow base held through. The last few days have seen more snowfall and we are back on the white wintery course! Now when I say we have had some snowfall, I'm saying we have had more than a dusting. Despite the weather setbacks that have been felt globally, we have had 189 cm of accumulated snowfall as of 7 a.m. this morning according to 360 Niseko, and it has been coming down hard all day. I am going out on on a limb here, but I want to be the first to call it - 2 meters of snowfall by tomorrow, December 19th this year!
If you haven't already made reservations for this winter, there are still accommodations available, although they are starting to disappear like the snow in Southern Japan!