Wednesday, November 7, 2018

The 1963 "Goetsu" Winter

If one can't be skiing in deep powder, it's best to be thinking about big storms.  I recently learned about the 1963 "Goetsu" winter, which crippled Nagaoka and other areas of Japan.  Goetsu is Japanese for heavy snowfall.  In the 1963 Goetsu winter, the snow depth in Nagaoka, which is at an elevation of only 23 meters (75 feet) above sea level, reached 3.2 meters (125 inches).  Here is some great footage from that winter.

Notice that the snow in this footage appears to be remarkably dense.  This is common in coastal areas of central Honshu where the bulk of the snow falls at temperatures near 0˚C (32˚F).  Nagaoka is a remarkably snowy city, with a mean annual snowfall of 500 cm (236 inches), but the average temperature in January, the coldest month of the year, is 1.3˚C (34.3˚F). 

Former Powder Magazine editor Steve Casimiro once asked, "do you ever wonder what it would be like if it started snowing and never stopped?"  The residents of Nagaoka got a pretty good idea in 1963.

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