AFTER a couple of false starts, the snow looks to have arrived for good this season with falls almost to village level overnight.
Skiers and boarders were excited to see the cleared main upper runs of all the Niseko resorts unexpectedly blanketed in white, with partial coverage down to about 600m.
It was the first time the snow settled below the Alpen Quad thermometer (pictured in the distance, top left), a much awaited milestone each year.
The first time snow fell to this level last season was November 4, so today’s weather is a full week earlier than last season.
This year’s first snow flakes fell on top of Mt Yotei on September 24 – about two weeks earlier than the previous season.
The first solid snowfalls at village level last season came on November 16, and the resort opened a week later on November 23.
There is definitely an icy winter chill in the air at village level with temperatures dropping to below 5C, and well below zero up high.
There’s also now snow two thirds of the way down Mt Yotei, which had just a light dusting on the peak over the weekend (check out our new YoteiCam).
The first snowfall on Yotei came just over a month ago on September 24, but melted back after a few days, with a repeat performance a couple of weeks later.
The peak has been bare for the past two weeks after an unusually warm October with just a couple of short cold bursts.
After it snowed on Yotei for the first time last season on October 10, it didn’t melt back at all, slowly creeping down the mountain over the coming weeks with each new weather system that moved through.
The forecast for the rest of the week is cold with showers at village level and light snowfalls up high, so the snow on the peaks of Yotei and Mt Annupuri should start to accumulate.
It’s still to early to tell when the first solid snowfalls will arrive, but there has been a lot of moisture in recent weather systems and the early snowfalls are a good omen.
Keep an eye on Powderlife for all your niseko snow report information this season.