Ski areas of Japan are famous for being some of the snowiest areas of the world. But not this year. Snowfall figures for December are the lowest on record in Japan, with the dry winter forcing many resorts to shut and also threatening a World Cup ski jumping competition.
Northern Japan saw just 38 percent of its average snowfall in December, with only a “little” snow seen in western Japan, the country’s meteorological agency said. FIS organizers are planning on shipping in snow in for the ski jumping event to take place.
“There are various factors behind the small amount of snow this season but climate change is among them,” Motoaki Takekawa, an official from the agency’s global environment section, told AFP.
Daisen White Resort in Tottori has been shut since early January after opening over the year-end holiday thanks to a dusting of snow and snowmaking efforts, but since Jan 6 it has been so warm that even the fake snow has melted on the slopes.
“The shortage has battered not only our resort but snow-related businesses here such as hotels and rental ski shops,” said Masahiro Ozeki, an official at the resort.
The resort partially re-opened on Friday after snow fell on Wednesday.
Local media reports that more than a third of ski resorts across Japan have stayed closed since the beginning of the year.
Organizers of Sapporo’s famed snow festival have had to hire a record number of trucks to bring in snow from the suburbs and surrounding towns in order to build their famous sculptures. The festival, which runs for three weeks from Jan 31, is a major draw for the region, attracting more than 2.7 million visitors last year.
The weather agency warned little relief is expected for ski resort operators.