And, where's that sun? I was expecting another sunny start to the day but there's a lot more cloud around at the moment. Perhaps it will clear up as the morning progresses.
It might be less sunny this morning, but it's definitely quite a bit warmer after a very mild night. As of 8am it's 6C degrees! And later on today it may well rise to around 10C degrees.
These warmer conditions are expected to last through the day today and tomorrow as well. Let's melting.
But not to despair (too much) as come Sunday the temperatures should be taking a considerable drop back down and things should be getting colder again, with the chance of light snow at times through early week.
It would be great if we could have a nice late March surprise or two.
Someone wrote in and asked how long my reports will continue. The answer to that is - every day until the last lift stops for the season in early May.
I may well have less to actually talk about over the last month of so of the season, but do bear with me as I endeavour to bring you what is 'the full season' from beginning to end. Do stay with me, it'll be lonely otherwise.
Resort specific lift opening news at time of posting (subject to change during the day):
Niseko base 6.00am: 2°C, no new snow, light winds, cloudy. Moiwa 838m: 1.8°C, WSW5.2m/s. Annupuri 1000m: snowpack 300cm. Annupuri 1150m: 0°C, W7-9m/s, snow surface wet snow. Hirafu Ridgeline: 0°C, light winds, no new snow, snow surface wet snow. Coastal data: Benkei Cape:S4m/s. Kamui Cape S14m/s, 1014hPa, wave 1.3m.
Mountain base visibility is good, however above 800m there is heavy fog. There is no new snow and with warm air flowing into the area, temperatures will rise above zero with continued snow melt. From observation, except for small scale slabs, the risk of surface avalanches is low. However with rising temperatures the risk of large scale full depth avalanches is increasing. These will run down into and along the valley bottoms. Do not ride or wait in the valley bottoms. Snow conditions are a bit slow and sticky today due to the warm snow and dirt particles blown into the area. Take care catching a ski. There are many cracks opening on leeward slopes below cornices and knolls. They are deeper than you think and stink. All peak gates are expected to be open. Have a good day.
Official resort snow depths as of Friday 18th March 2016:
It was mild overnight not dipping below 3 degrees here in the village and at 8:40am my thermometer is telling me it's 5 degrees. Temps are forecast to rise up to around 13C later in the day down here in the village. Obviously colder than that up top though at 8am the resort reports 4C up on the top Yamabiko area... so it's going to be a warm day again.
There's more cloud around this morning.
Unfortunately, rain is still on the forecast for tomorrow and it should be keeping rather warm though perhaps not as much as today.
Then on Sunday, it will be getting colder again and perhaps the chance of some snowfall even (better chance higher up on mountain than at base).
But Sunday looks like it should be better weather conditions than Saturday if you are planning a day over the weekend.
From Monday 21st March until Friday 25th March, the Yamabiko B Course will be closed to the general public as it is going to be used for a competition event.
Official info at time of writing on Friday 18th March 2016 (subject to change):
What a beautiful day it was yesterday. A stunner right through the day.
We may not have been blessed with fresh snow, but the setting we enjoy here is hard to beat!
Alas, it was as warm as we were hoping it wouldn't be with a lot of snow melt going on.
Temperatures dropped down to just around zero overnight but it's going to warm up once again today with temperatures here in the village once again forecast to rise up to maybe as high as 14-15 degrees this afternoon. Poka-poka, as they say.
This morning there's a nice blue backdrop to the mountain range though more cloud over to the east.
Rain is forecast to be falling by the end of the day today and continue into tomorrow, possibly heavy at times.
Not what you want to hear... sorry!!
Sunday should be better, or dry at least - and somewhat colder.
What's that on the forecast for Wednesday next week, heavy snow?!
Resort news as of 8:40am on Friday 18th March 2016 (where available, all subject to change due to weather conditions)
Hakuba 47: Hakuba 47 is reporting 0cm of fresh snowfall this morning. All courses set to open this morning. The Tree Riding Zone is open. There is no 'nighta' at Hakuba 47. Official snow depth: Upper: 190cm Base: 80cm
Hakuba Goryu: Hakuba Goryu is reporting 0cm of fresh snowfall this morning. All courses open apart from Snow Diving and Adventure. The Toomi area will be open until 9:30pm tonight for 'nighta'. Official snow depth Alps: 248cm Toomi: 120cm Iimori: 50cm
Hakuba Happo-one: Hakuba Happo-one is reporting 0cm of fresh snowfall again this morning. Happo Banks is open. Kurobishi Off-Piste seems to be closed this morning, though not sure of the reason. Parts of the lower areas of Happo-one are now closed due to insufficient snow. Upper mountain remains all open. Night skiing has now finished for the season. Official snow depth: Usagidaira: 170cm Nakiyama: 45cm Sakka: 10cm
Hakuba Cortina: Hakuba Cortina is reporting 0cm of fresh snowfall again this morning. All courses open apart from Itadaira Ridge, Itadaira Forest and Giant. The Ikenota area will be open for 'nighta' until 8pm tonight (9pm on Saturdays). Official snow depth: Top: 150cm Base: 80cm
Tsugaike Kogen: All courses are generally open. Nighta at Karamatsu/Shirakaba on 19th March. The top Tsugaike Ropeway is now open for spring season (extra charge required). Official snow depth: Tsuga-no-mori: 231cm Maruyama: 60cm Kane-no-naru-oka: 50cm
Hakuba Iwatake Snow Field: Insufficient snow means that only limited areas of Village Side remain open - by3, Shinden connecting. Sunny Valley and Paradise remain part open. Parts of the Mountain Side that are closed - View A, View B, Kamo 4, Dangan, Sonezawa, Five Side. There is no 'nighta' at Hakuba Iwatake. Official snow depth: Upper: 120cm Lower: 40cm
Hakuba Norikura Onsen: Closed courses are Kamoshika, Highway, Snake, Expert, Skyview and lower part of Satomi Ridge. There is no 'nighta' at Hakuba Norikura. Official snow depth: 75cm
Good morning from Yuzawa and it's going to be another warm one.
Yesterday afternoon I was driving on Route 17 in Yuzawa and noticed the temperature on the board by the side of the road... 16C! Yikes.
It sure felt warm too. And today is probably going to be similarly warm, though there is more cloud around at the start of the day. It's bright though and there is some blue sky to be seen.
The news isn't much better for tomorrow as while it should be cooler, rain is on the forecast (and perhaps heavy at times as well).
I'm sorry but nature just has not been fair to us this winter! Where do I lodge a formal complaint?!
Sunday should be better than tomorrow and it's actually forecast to get a bit colder.
Monday is a national holiday in Japan and so it's a 3-day weekend coming up.
Interestingly, check the forecast for Wednesday next week. Snow?!
Resort official snow depths (Friday 18th March 2016) and any specific news at time of writing:
Spring. Sadly, snow melts and unfortunately melts faster when there's less of a base. There are now lots of patches of ground on view on some lower slopes around town, some more than others. Some courses/areas at resorts are now closed due to the snow situation. If you are coming, recommended to check with the individual resorts for their up-to-date details. You can get to their websites by the links below.
Details of the 'nighta' operations at ski and snowboards resorts around Yuzawa and Minamiuonuma. Subject to change due to snow conditions.
Ishiuchi Maruyama Open daily until 8:50pm (until 20th March). The Chuo No 1 and Chuo No 2 lifts are open daily. The Kanko No 1, Kanko No 2, Kanko No 3, Hatsukaishi Entrance lift, Hatsukaishi No 2 pair lifts are open on weekends and holidays. The basic charge is 2000 yen but various tickets are available.
Iwappara Open daily until 9pm on Saturdays and until 8pm on weekdays and Sundays (until 21st March). The charge is 1500 yen for adults and 1000 yen for children and seniors.
Joetsu Kokusai Open daily until 9pm (until 21st March). The charge is 1500 yen for adults and 1000 yen for children and seniors. On weekdays the area in front of the main hotel is open - a larger area (including Osawa and Atema) is open on weekends.
Kandatsu Kogen Open from 6pm until 4am on Fridays, Saturdays and evenings before holidays through 26th March. Open from 4:30pm until 11pm on weekdays until 24th March. Various tickets are available starting at 2000 yen for adults, 1700 yen for seniors and 1000 yen for children.
Naeba Open daily until 27th March. From 4pm until 8:30pm on weekdays and Sundays (2000 yen); until 9pm every Saturday and on 20th March (3000 yen). 'All Night' opening is planned for Saturday 26th March when Naeba will be open from 10pm until 5am.
Ski resorts around Mt. Bandai are announcing their planned closing dates:
Listel Ski Fantasia - already closed (on 12 March).
Numajiri / Inawashiro resort / Inawashiro and Minero ski resorts - until 21st March
Alts Bandai / Urabandai ski resorts - until 27th March.
After 27th, resorts that remain open in the region will be Grandeco, Nekoma and Minowa.
Nekoma will be closed between 19th-21th and 26th-28 Apr but these resorts all plan to be open until 5th May ---- but 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. We'll just have to see how things develop over the coming weeks. Read more ...
Friday 18th March 2016, 9:14am
It is another warm day with the thermometer showing +7c in the village at 8am. The skies are not as pretty today with a thin layer of cloud high up, but other than that conditions are nice and clear. Strong winds could be heard in the early hours of the morning but have since passed and there is only a slight breeze now. Conditions on the slopes should be quite soft and spring like from mid mountain down, and perhaps a little firmer on the upper half.
The forecast for Saturday is showing some light rain from morning through to afternoon. Sunday will be a return to colder temperatures below freezing.
Just a reminder that this is the last weekend of the season for the Kitanomine Zone. The last day of operation will be Monday 21 March. The Furano Zone will continue operating from 22 March through until the tentative closing date of 5 May.
It's a fine and sunny morning, just a few clouds around, and warm.
More soft snow conditions as the day goes on and melting going on as well.
Rain is still on the forecast for Saturday and lower temperatures from Sunday onwards... though still not much potential for snow at all on the weekly forecast.
Monday is a national holiday in Japan so it is a three day weekend ahead of us. For lots of people probably their last ski of the season. I would expect things to be pretty busy (esp. during the non raining times!)
From 21st March (Monday), 'spring season' lift tickets will be available:
4 hours - 3500 yen (500 yen cheaper than main season) 5 hours - 3700 yen (800 yen cheaper than main season) 1 day adult - 4100 yen (900 yen cheaper than main season) 1 day senior - 3800 yen (600 yen cheaper than main season)
Information as of Friday 18th March 2016 (subject to change)