Constant snow for Japan

The current weather pattern over the Sea of Japan is bringing windy, cold and snowy weather to much of the country.

    This season's snow in Japan has been measured in metres rather than centimetres. This is not just in Hokkaido but now throughout Honshu. This is clearly good news for the ski resorts, but often an annoyance in towns and cities where travel is the first to suffer.

    In Ishikawa prefecture, on the opposite side of Honshu from Tokyo, 60cm of fresh snow was laid down in the mountains in 24 hours. This brings resort depths up to nearly four metres. The rate of snowfall has been so great that virtually all ski resorts in Ishikawa and its neighbours Fukui and Toyama now have a significant avalanche risk.

    The winter started early this season, with snow falling in Tokyo, Japan's capital, in November, for the first time since 1958. Hokkaido usually has legendary amounts of snow and, for winter sports, beautiful powder. This year has been no exception and it is the prevailing wind across the Sea of Japan that is the cause.

    With temperatures in Siberia and northeast China cold, and the northwest wind blowing across the relatively warm Sea of Japan, Honshu's western side has been the beneficiary. Snow started falling as far south as Nagasaki, on the island of Kyushu, on Sunday night. The maximum temperature on Monday of 4 degrees Celcius is the average low on a January night.

    As for significant snow, 43cm fell on Tottori, on the north coast of Honshu, in 30 hours on Sunday and Monday. About 30cm collected in Akita, in the north of Honshu in the same time. On Hokkaido, the city of Sapporo now boasts 82cm.

    And it is still snowing, but unfortunately for skiers, it is quite windy up on the slopes and many lifts are likely to remain closed.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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