The ring around the full moon above Niseko Thursday night may have been more than just an interesting natural phenomenon – it may have signalled the start to the winter deluge.
From what us amateur meteorologists at Powderlife can gather, lunar halos are formed when ice crystals high in the atmosphere refract moonlight into a ring 22 degrees away from the moon, similar in principle to how rainbows are formed.
And before the advent of meteorology, weather forecasters associated halos with approaching bad weather.
According to Space.com the modern theory behind this is that high cirrostratus clouds carrying ice crystals usually precede warm fronts accompanying precipitation 12 to 18 hours later.
As it’s a warm front, it doesn’t appear to have anything to do with snowfall in the short term, but ironically yesterday’s weekly forecasts confirmed the first serious low-level, base-building snow does indeed appear to be on the way.
The latest forecasts suggest temperatures should start dropping Sunday with another round of moisture scheduled to hit on the 18th, next Tuesday, by which time daytime temperatures at village level in Niseko should be well below 0C and ripe for guaranteeing any precipitation falls as snow.
There was a bit of concern across town this week that despite several significant early snowfalls, the snow had petered out and there might not be a big enough dump to open the resort before the official opening day November 22.
So long as we get a couple of solid days of snowfall there should be enough to open the top of the mountain by that time.
Interestingly November 18 last year heralded the first major storm with the resort opening five days later.
Falls continued throughout the night and by the following day about a 30cm was piled up all over the village by midday.
It rained on the 20th but dumped on the 21st and 22nd.
On opening day the next day a fresh 30cm had fallen overnight.
Back to this season and if there’s enough snow in eight days time, it’s all on.
Keep an eye on what the snow is doing at our new Niseko Snow Report and Forecast page – all your Niseko weather information in one place.
And stay tuned for our daily Niseko ski and snow report and daily video reports… coming soon!