In what we hope is a sign of things to come, several Hokkaido ski resorts have woken to a thick layer of fresh snow this morning, with a report of 47cm from Rusutsu-based Facebook page Rusutsu20-20. In Niseko, local site 360niseko reported “40cm or more” in the last 24 hours, referring to it as a “heroic dump” that was great to see “after all the doom and gloom of recent times”.

According to records kept by the Japan Meteorological Agency for Kutchan – Niseko Hirafu’s closest town, it is the earliest snowfall recorded in November since 2016 – and a significant one at that. The snow is expected to continue through to this evening, before a rise in temperatures on Thursday and the possibility of rain on Friday.

Earlier this year, the JMA reported an 80% chance of below average or average snowfall for Hokkaido this season, despite the presence of La Niña, which has historically had a positive influence on Japan’s snow season.