The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) has released its forecast for the 2020/21 winter season, indicating that above average snowfall and colder than average temperatures are a likely outcome for resorts in Japan’s Hokuriku region, while parts of Hokkaido may have to settle for less favourable conditions.
For parts of western Hokkaido, which are depicted in yellow in the map below, the JMA has said that there is a 40% chance of below average snowfall, a 40% chance of average snowfall and a 20% chance of above average levels. This area encompasses many of the prefecture’s most popular resorts, including Niseko, Rusutsu, Kiroro and Furano.
On the other hand, areas of Japan’s Hokuriku region (light blue), which includes popular resorts Myoko Kogen and Lotte Arai, have a 70% chance of seeing above average or average levels of snowfall. For Japan’s Kinki region, which is home to a number of smaller resorts, the prognosis is even better.
It’s worth noting at this point that predictions are based around variations on average snowfall, so a 10% decline for one of the snowy resorts in Hokkaido – which might receive 12 metres of a season – will still yield far more snow than a bumper season in one of the Hyogo prefecture resorts, for example.
Temperature predictions follow a similar pattern, with Hokkaido more likely to see warmer than average conditions than its southern counterparts. For the Tohoku region, JMA has said that there is a greater chance that conditions will be normal (40% probability) than above average (30%) or below average (30%). For anywhere further south, the likelihood of colder than average temperatures increases. Great news for some of the large Nagano-based resorts like Hakuba Valley and Shiga Kogen.
As we repeat every year, seasonal forecasts must always be taken with a grain of salt, as there are many variables at play.