David or goliath for snow?

We just had a blog comment from Japan, a hotel owner in Hakuba, Nagano Japan talking about the depth of snow they get in their region.

With a top height of less than 2000m we in Europe are conditioned to think that this region in Japan is not snow sure. Well they get 11m of the stuff on average each year. I recall a few years ago showing a Austrian where I previously lived in British Columbia, Canada and he thought the map was incorrect in showing glaciers at far lower elevations than the Alps. If you go the Greenland (for now at least) glaciers exist at sea level. The point is height is a useful indicator and one that we are increasingly reliant on, but it is just one factor of many. Historical snow reports have proven that the west of Austria gets more snow than anywhere else in the Alps. Take the Bregenzerwald ski resorts that are located at 1000m, they get far more snow than any other ski resorts in the Alps despite some being 1300m higher. Go to St Anton, St Christoph, Stuben, Lech or Zurs in the winter and see unrivalled snow packs. The aspect of height is important in broadly achieving lower temperatures in a defined region. Comparing Canada to Austria is problematic because of latitude. But broadly speaking you would expect areas on a similar latitude to be colder the higher (and this is very broadly speaking). But the same micro-climates that can affect this relationship also throw up different weather patterns. Hence the unbeatable amount of snow that comes in over Switzerland, hits the western mountains in the Austrian Arlberg region and dumps month after month, year after year. So height yes, one factor but you don’t just want to be cold on holiday? You need to be surrounded by the white stuff. There are 3 regions of the world where I have found unimaginable levels of snow – Japan, the west of Canada and the west of Austria. And you know what… if I had looked at a detailed map and made my judgement on that I would never have experienced such incredible levels of snow.

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