The 2015/2016 Winter Ski/Snowboard Season in Japan was well shy of a average year for the country famous for its deep snow packs. In fact it was some of the lowest snow totals in over a decade across many mountains of central Honshu.  BUT, for those who put up with the below than average snow be happy, this coming winter might be the flip side of the proverbial snow coin. 


JMA at this time along with overall guidance shows average to slightly above average snow total for the sea of Japan coastline from Hokkaido through Hokoriku with well above average south west through Kyushu.  This would be far more snow than Japan seen in 2016-2016.


This was a result of the general weather pattern being skewed to produce more southerly storms that tend to track along the pacific coastline and are much warmer than the classic and infamous sea effect snow patterns Japan often gets during December through March which are a result of cold air spilling in across the sea of Japan picking up moisture and dumping across the mountains.


The reason for this jarring in the air pattern? El Nino, In North America El Nino is a blessing for winter sports lovers with the season lasting well in to the spring this year and even the water deficit from years of drought some what recovering but in Japan the day in and day out of continued snowfall was no where to be found.


If we look back at historical records gathered from (Niigata Prefecture Records) over the past decade it is clear to see the change in sea surface temperatures based on La Nina and El Nino play a major role in the amount of snowfall ski resorts tend to get.


Total Snowfall Reports Per Year

Total Snowfall Reports Per Year



The Forecast


The climate prediction center in August stated the ENSO is in a neutral state leaning towards La Nina with it possible to come more in place this coming winter.  ( A Lina Watch was issued but since been dropped.)  Previous thoughts of it being a very strong La Nina are no longer in the picture but the atmospheric picture will be a far cry from last years Monster El Nino pattern that brought near record breaking snow shortages and the hottest year on record globally.


SST Anomalies

The graphic above shows the Sea Surface Temperature anomalies in the pacific with cooler than average near the South America Coast and above average off the coast of Japan. Overall though it is not cold enough for it to be a technical La Nina at this time.


(Not Sure what all the weather mumble jumble means? Check the video below)


What is the main weather event that brings snow to Japan? Sea effect snow.. what is sea effect snow? Check the video below.

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