I tried to open my eyes before they were even open this morning. Looking out the window, I couldn't see. Have you ever done that before? - Is it Snowing? - well I can't flooping well see because they're still glued together from sleep and then there's the old optic nerve refusing to piece together the image - likely because it doesn't remember what snow looks like!
The sky is full of snow! It's probably only been snowing for an hour or 2. It's a heavy snow with big flakes. There's a good solid 10 cm under foot, a nice heavy load which should provide a good start to some base snow. Cutting turns through this type of snow later today will be pure decadence!
Naeba is almost invisible from Asagai, The general routes of the runs can be seen - but it's almost impossible to see if there's any gondola action yet. Taking into consideration that the wind is down to zero this morning it's safe to say that the gondolas will be storming up the mountain with excited, impatient individuals grinning from ear to ear.
The temperature is dropping as predicted, it was -14 at the base of the mountain at 8am this morning, thats the coldest it has been for a few weeks. We just need some precipitation now and looking at the satellite images that won't be far off - there is a big band of precipitation down south at the moment which should hit Hokkaido later today.
When the snow does arrive it is predicted to last all week so if these cold temperatures remain we should be in for some fantastic conditions on the mountain.
The snow has hit! There is currently 20cm of fresh powder at the village level and it is snowing at a rate of 4cm/hour. The temperature at the village level is -1 deg C and at 1500m it is around -3 deg C.
The forecast says that the snow will change to rain later this morning but at this stage it looks like the snow is here to stay for the next 3 days. Keep tuned for an update this evening. Read more ...
Saturday 6th January 2007, 9:36am
Cloud, rain (snow higher up)
Well, the forecast was right so far - it is raining in the town this morning. There's also some strong winds blowing about especially higher up and at the moment Gala Yuzawa haven't yet opened due to those winds. Those winds might calm down later on this morning and if they do expect Gala to open again.
Better news from the Naeba region where the snow started falling a few hours ago and there is now up to 10cm of new snow to play in - hopefully that will continue through the day and we have seen the last of (annoying) rain for quite some time.
We still have snowmen lined up on tbe weekly forecast all the way through to next Friday and so things are looking good. Tomorrow we are still set for strong winds as well as snow which might affect resort lift operations.
After a beautiful day yesterday that cold front has started to move in and I'm happy to report that the snow has started falling and there's about 5cm of new snow outside the building here. Apparently there are some strong winds affecting some areas of the Shiga Kogen resort and some lifts at Okushiga and Yakebitaiyama are currently on standby. Expect them to start moving again if and when the winds die down a bit.
It's not as cold as it was yesterday at the moment, but temperatures are set to drop later tonight and into tomorrow.
Snow is forecast for every day now for the coming week, and it looks like tomorrow especially will see snowfall and some very strong winds that have a high chance of affecting resort operations. Read more ...
Saturday 6th January 2007, 10:18am
Overcast with cloud ceiling at below 1,290 m a.s.l.
Good morning Sports Fans, and a happy morning it is indeedy-do!
At the 0700 hr. reading time our tireless snow-elf had the pleasant duty of clearing 6 cm of fluffy snow from the daily Height of New Snow in 24 Hours (HN24) snow board*. The forecast is for a break in the precipitation early today. But for a resumption later in the day that may indeed continue well into the week. It may be a good time to call in as "too well to work" on Monday. The clouds are down to below the 1,290 m a.s.l. summit of Iwa Take. You cannot see the ridge crest across the valley.
The driving conditions in the valley are less than ideal. With a low temperature of -7C overnight before the snow began to fall the daily melt water has turned to ice and is lurking below the new snow. Also this new snow at the present -1C temperature is quite slippery when packed. Pay special attention at road intersections: more ice forms there and someone may just go sliding, out of control, across the intersection.
* 1981, V.G. Schleiss, P. Schaerer
Once you get to the slopes bear in mind that this is mostly just "fluff on crust" and the rocks and other assorted obstacles and what-not are just barely covered. As a reminder I will reiterate yesterday's comment: "our on-slope team of observers report lots of rocks and other obstacles (mysterious holes, drainage ditches, odd bits brick-a-brack) on the lift accessible, groomed terrain. This is especially true at the lower elevations."
The crust this morning at 830 m a.s.l. was extremely weak.
The Hira Kawa Snow Study Plot (830m) the 0700 hr. reading is: Sky: overcast Temperature: Present: -1.2C Maximum: 8C (-3C was observed at 1300 hrs. at 2,230m a.s.l., above the Happo One Lift Company area) Minimum: -7C Wind: calm Precipitation: snowing such as to accumulate less than 1 cm per hour (S -1) Barometer and trend: 918 hPa and falling rapidly Height of new snow in 24 hours (HN24): 6 cm Total depth of snowpack (HS): 26 cm Crust: 1 cm and weak
We had one backcountry team out yesterday. They travelled up the ridge above the Happo One Lift Company terrrain to 2,230 m a.s.l. Very good visibility gave a clear view of Mt. Fuji. No new avalanches were observed but there were many fracture lines in skiable and unskiable (for normal individuals) terrain from the last cycle (about 2006-12-30). Ski penetration was up to 10 cm on the northerly aspect of the ridge crest area and up to 20 in lee features further down. Of special note was the surface hoar up to size 5 mm. This was first observed above 1,400 m a.s.l. and continued to be observed all the way to 2,230 m a.s.l. This is probably covered and preserved with this new snow. We will refer to it as the "January 6th layer" from now on as that is the date of its burial. Likewise the December 13th layer of buried surface hoar.
A "test" snow profile was done at 2,230 m a.s.l. on a North-east exposure down to a depth of 165 cm. The HS was 260 cm. The pit site was about 10 metres vertically below the ridge crest (i.e. the start zone for the avalanche path). The most interesting feature of the profile is probably the very strong temperature gradient in the upper snowpack. The temperature of the air (Ta) was -3.0C, the temperature of the snow surface (Ts) was -13.5C, and the temperature of the snow down 10 cm was -15.0C. At 50 cm below the surface the temperature was -7.0C. Compression tests results: down 5 cm, "Easy" at 5 taps on decomposed and faceting crystals of size 1.5 mm. There was no rounding of the snow crystals observed until the layer down 65 cm to 156 cm down. Just below that, at the interface with the melt-freeze layer, was a thin layer of faceted crystals, size 1.0 mm. No shear was observed on this layer. Remember that as always this is just one little hole in a vast area and that the "spatial variation" in the snowpack can and will be tremendous.
Of note we observed that the fracture lines from the 2006-12-30 avalanche cycle at 2,200 m a.s.l. on the south-east exposure of the Happo One were filling in with wind transported snow.
The team descended to the Kara Matsu Sawa by traversing to the "Garagara Sawa" at above 1,800 m a.s.l. This was generally followed to the Kara Matsu Sawa with no real difficulties and only minor discomforts. The river crossing to the road out was easily affected in rubber soled boots while the plastic soled boot wearers suffered slippage and soakers. There was barely adequate coverage on the road to the bridge and paved, plowed and ungated road at 825 m a.s.l. The skiing quality varied from good (for good skiers) to poor (lots of old tracks, refrozen avalanche debris, melt-freeze ice, water-ice). The descent time was 2 1/2 hours for this strong, self-rescue capable team. Emphasis on "self-rescue capable". Read more ...
Nozawa Onsen Now!
Saturday 6th January 2007, 11:15am
It looks as though the snow that was predicted has arrived! It's coming down in buckets and people are giggling as they head to the hills. The bases as yet have not improved on from yesterday but by end of the day there will be plenty of snow around. The temperatures are currently -1C on the mountain and -1C in the village and the visibility is understandably poor.
The forecast remains the same with moderate to heavy snow over the weekend and Monday. By then around 70cm of will have fallen. Read more ...