Traveling overseas to ski contains an element of risk, changes to global weather patterns have made snowfall less predictable. In some ski resorts in Europe, Mountain Biking is a genuine alternative at the beginning of the season. Skiing in Japan is generally seen as a relatively safe option, seasons are generally good or amazing (we had an ‘good’ season last year and got about 9 metres!). But still there are variations and no two seasons are alike.
Promoted by the recent typhoon activity in Japan I was curious to see if the typhoon season was a predictor of the ski season. I wasn’t able to find any research that proved a relationship between typhoons and snowfall but I was able to find US research on the relationship between El Nino and snowfall. Essentially, periods of El Nino are characterised by low snowfall. Curious to test this research on Japan I went to look at El Nino (warm) and El Nina (Cold) events in Japan. Here is the recent history of events from the Japanese Meteorology Authority.
The red bar indicates an El Nino event and the blue line indicates how strong the event is. As you can see the strongest El Nino event in recent history was in the 2015 season. I remember this season because I was skiing in Nozawa Onsen and there was no snow. I had skied there for 10 years before and never seen anything like it…half of the resort was closed. The 2018 season started slowly, and some resorts didn’t get good snow until later in the season (shameless plug, Madarao had an amazing season).
So what does all this mean for 2019-20, the Japanese meteorology authority is predicting a neutral position on El Nino up to and into the winter, so that means we should have a great season, with low risk. So for those of you sitting on the fence…hop off and get yourself sorted out. If you have already booked, get ready for a great season!
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