East Japan ski resorts at the mercy of El Nino

posted on December 14, 2015

The El Nino effect is playing havoc with ski resorts across eastern Japan and threatening to disrupt operations during the critical New Year holiday period.

While the warmest winter in six years may sound pleasing to some, the sheer lack of snow this season is causing alarm at dozens of ski resorts.

The Fujiten Snow Resort in Narusawa, Yamanashi Prefecture, opened on Dec. 10, five days behind schedule, but closed after only a day as a freak rainstorm and rising temperatures turned the powder to slush.

According to the operator, this is the first time the resort has shut down in mid-season since it opened in 1986.

As the ski resort is thronged with visitors during the holiday season around Christmas and New Year's, deputy manager Kazuhiro Hihara said: "We intend to resume making snow when the temperature drops again and have the place ready in time."

Snow is in unseasonably short supply in Nagano Prefecture, just north of Yamanashi Prefecture, as well.

A survey by Nagano prefectural authorities found that 20 of the 85 ski resorts in the prefecture were scheduled to open by Dec. 10, but only 13 had managed to open up their slopes.

Following a six-day delay, the Sugadaira Kogen Snow Resort in Ueda, Nagano Prefecture, opened for business on Dec. 11. But with the usual snowfall of 20 centimeters down to just 3 cm or so this year, the resort was forced to lay down artificial snow. The Naeba ski resort in Yuzawa, Niigata Prefecture, also needed the assistance of snowmakers to open on Dec. 12.

Even the Tohoku region of northeastern Japan, which is renowned for its heavy snowfall, is experiencing a dearth of the stuff.

source by asahi
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