We are now getting in to mid-winter across Japan and its the time of year where snow lovers really start to put their happy hats and snow haters shut the blinds and wait for spring. Just on Thursday in to Friday parts of Gunma and Niigata seen well over 40cm of snowfall.
This coming weekend there will be a few opportunities for mother nature to add to the already heavy snow pack across Japan. In fact much of Hokkaido is already seeing well above average snow totals thus far this winter as shown in the graphic below.
The rest of Honshu is seeing either average or slightly below average snow totals, not the best news but much better than what we were seeing a year ago this time.
The first opportunity for snow will be tonight through Friday morning, the classic winter weather pattern we see this time of year has set up with persistent north west winds dominating the forecast.
The second and more tricky to predict shot is going to coming in on Sunday night in to Monday morning. As a winter sports lover I would be excited about Monday mornings conditions this coming weekend if the forecast plays out right. (Monday is a National Holiday in Japan)
There is a storm system developing out of South East China and will track along the pacific coastline of Japan. Depending on how far or close it tracks along the coast will determine how much snow falls in the mountains. Right now many numerical models are split but I will personally go with the JMA which is predicting a high snow total. Sites like Snowforecast.com are showing lower numbers but every model run this updates and becomes more accurate, so I would keep checking it if you are in the mountains.
One other thing to keep in mind is due to re-freeze and new snowfall on top of that the avalanche threat will remain in place for the time being. Parts of Hokkaido are being considered a “high” avalanche risk including the Niseko area. Something to keep in mind if heading out.
If you are heading to Nagano as well this weekend do check out the snow monkeys. Below is a video and some fun facts about them.