Japan: warmer and less snow in winter 15-16?

By meteomorris on 2 November 2015 · 4

A historical El Niño is coming up and it just might be the strongest in years! El Niño is a phenomenon that has consequences for the pressure distribution (and as a result the weather) on the entire planet. This is caused by the higher temperatures of the water of the coast of South America. The weather in Japan will also be affected by El Niño. JMA (the Japanese Meterological Agency) made some predictions for this winter.

Japan is the most popular exotic location to get your faceshots since 9/11. The struggling ski areas suddenly had to deal with the first powder pioneers from Australia and New Zealand. This was caused by the stricter requirements of the US Customs and Japan was the alternative to the resorts in the US and Canada. The stories about the cold blower powder in Hokkaido spread further around the world. The result is that nowadays every self-respecting rider should ride powder in Japan. And do not wait too long. Bali was a mystery for surfers around 20 years ago, but the line-ups are packed nowadays. This could easily happen in Japan as well. Don't wait too long. We already gave you some advice on riding powder in Japan. Where to find the best powder in Japan and Japan on a budget.

A warmer winter?

Japan is hip and happening. But this winter will be warmer than normal according to JMA. And they have proven to be quite right with their long-term winter forecasts. They were the first with the prediction of this El Niño phase and also their seasonal predictions do reasonably well. They are sharing their seasonal forecast every month. In addition, they recently launched their winter forecast. Conclusions: warmer, wetter in the south and normal snowfall in Hokkaido.

Have a look at the maps. The next month will be quite warm.

Chances are it will be warmer than normal
Chances are it will be warmer than normal

The complete winter will be warmer than normal.

Higher temperatures than normal on Honshu
Higher temperatures than normal on Honshu

Warmer and more rain on the main island means less snow. The impact is nil for Hokkaido. It won't be significantly warmer and the snowfall stays within the norms.

Less snow on Honshu
Less snow on Honshu

According to JMA Hokkaido is the best place to ride powder. Nothing new so far. The snow in Hokkaido is deep, cold and comes in large amounts. The place to be in Japan this winter!


  • Karst
    Karst op 2 November 2015 · 12:31
    shouldn't write off whole Honshu based on these pictures.
    Appi kogen and the Aomori prefecture should be OK - if the nino does take effect...?

    fingers crossed!
    Smile! Your ridin' pow!!!
  • meteomorris
    meteomorris op 2 November 2015 · 20:19
    @Karst keep us posted with your reports from Japan!
    May the powder be with you.
  • snowfilmer
    snowfilmer op 3 November 2015 · 13:08
    It is probably just my inner hope talking but I don't think there is a strong correlation.
    Here is the mid Japan - Nogano weather station snow depth charted on a random spread of decades (all the 3's, '53, '63 etc) along with the historic '97, El Nino and another smaller one in 2003 for good measure.

    The El Nino years look fairly consistent...
    As you say, fingers crossed
  • Karst
    Karst op 3 November 2015 · 23:24
    @snowfilmer , could just mean an earlier season...
    but thats counter intuitive given the warm november that @meteomorris is showing...

    again, fingers crossed!
    Smile! Your ridin' pow!!!


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