Hakuba Snow Forecast and Conditions
The season in Hakuba lasts from the beginning of December till the second week of May although four years ago we were riding bottomless powder for the whole of November. There are usually consistent powder conditions from mid December to mid March. On average it dumps 4 days out of every seven during this time meaning you rarely have to worry about icy runs and there’s always plenty of bottomless powder.
Why it snows so much
The fantastic powder in Hakuba is a result of the great Siberian snow machine, the world’s largest example of lake-effect snow. Entrenched high pressure over Siberia and low pressure over the western pacific leads to a constant flow of super-cooled air which flows down over Japan. As the incredibly cold and dry air flows over the Japan Sea it picks up moisture until it becomes super-saturated. This air hits the mountain ranges of the Northern Alps and Hakuba is uplifted and unloads meters and meters of fresh light powder. These entrenched weather patterns last for weeks on end meaning constant falls. Occasional blobs of high pressure leave the Siberian high and pass over Japan giving a respite from the powder and bluebird days. The temperature at the top of the mountains usually hovers between -7 and -14 and the bottom between -7 and -2. This small range compared to high-altitude resorts preserves the powder for longer especially on north facing slopes. Season Snowfall at the Cortina and Tsugaike end of the valley which is closer to the Japan Sea averages 12-14m. Hakuba itself averages 10-12m.