The mountains in Snow Country have just shed their fall colors and it is now a case of waiting for the snow. A popular way to pass the time for those impatient waiting to get back on the slopes is to try to predict how much snow will fall this winter.
The first dusting of snow has already appeared on the top of the higher peaks around the region and daily news reports keep us updated on how many days earlier or later first snows are around the country.
If you head over to the Japan Meteorological Agency website you can check out the long term forecast for temperatures and snowfall, which is a rough indication of whether it will be average or above/below that. Other sites can give you daily reports of snowfall from throughout previous seasons, and there will often be reports of the possibility of La Niña/El Niño events to throw into the equation in some years.
If you want insider information on the weather for the upcoming winter we suggest asking your little, old local person in the mountains of Japan. Years of living through deep snows and tough winters mean that they know the signs to predict the snowfall.
Praying mantis eggs. This is a well known indicator of snow depth in the mountain areas of Snow Country. Apparently the mantis will lay its eggs higher than the level of the accumulated snow. Find a mantis laying its eggs low down and you can expect a year of easy snow shovelling; much higher up and you better get working out.
Stink bugs. These little brown insects are a common pest in this part of the Japan often found close to cedar trees. They are harmless bugs that manage to invade your house in fall no matter how well you think it is sealed, looking for a nice warm place to settle. If they are threatened or squashed they release a disgusting odor which is a little like the smell of coriander leaf. There are many people here who can’t eat coriander just because it reminds them of these bugs. Should you find yourself in an old hotel around here you may have a random roll of brown parcel tape in your room. This is to trap any invading stink bugs and then package them up in a little tape envelope for disposal. Our local granny swears the last time she remembers them coming in vast numbers it was a huge winter for snow.
If you decide to go down the snow prediction rabbit hole there are lots of things on which you can use to base your forecast. No one knows what the future holds for snow with talk of both warmer winters and bigger storms. What is certain though is that there is nothing you can do about the weather on a particular day. Should you be lucky enough to find yourself in the snow this winter what you can do is make sure you enjoy it as much as you possible – no excuses!