Last Year El Niño, This Year La Niña?

What is La Niña and how can it benefit your ski trip to Niseko?

For those who traveled to Niseko last winter, you might recall that the season got off to a bit of a slow start with unnaturally warm weather being attributed to El Niño. However, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency this year we might be in for a much more favourable weather event! Weather agencies across the globe are in debate as to the probability, but the JMA's current outlook is that there is a 70% chance that La Niña will occur this Autumn.

La Nina 2016 The Weather Network

Image taken from The Weather Network.

What is La Niña and how does it affect Japan?

El Niño and La Niña are weather patterns that are caused by an ocean-atmosphere phenomenon. The two weather patterns affect each part of the globe a bit differently. Here in Japan, El Niño, which is caused by warming ocean surface temperatures, typically brings warmer weather and can spell disaster for many ski resorts, especially those in slightly more southern climes than Niseko! Last year was said to have been the worst recorded El Niño to date with many of the resorts on the main island of Japan (like Hakuba) suffering from green slopes over peak periods. La Niña, on the other hand, is El Nino's counterpart and is caused by the cooling of ocean surface waters. Here in Japan, La Niña typically spells excellent winter conditions for those looking to maximize their time on the slopes!

How does this impact your travel plans this winter?

If La Niña does occur, it will bring an added boost of cool weather. Coupled with the north Siberian winds, which bring the Hokkaido powder snow, La Niña could help to make this coming winter season longer and more consistent in its snow conditions. Mind you, the conditions up in Niseko are already pretty consistently amazing! Of course, it is impossible to predict with certainty just how La Niña will affect the weather and winter conditions. We are hoping that it could mean more security for travelers looking to come in late-November, when many of the Niseko ski resorts aim to begin operation, and even better odds for those looking to sneak in some skiing prior to the Christmas and New Year's peak.

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