Sapporo snow fest organizers fretting over very low snowfall
The one thing this northern city is normally not short of at this time of year is snow, lots of it.
But just 54 centimeters fell in December in Sapporo, 41 percent of average, causing alarm bells to ring for organizers of the 71st Sapporo Snow Festival, which starts Feb. 4 and draws many visitors from overseas.
Ski resorts in Sapporo have also had to scale back their activities, and festival organizers are struggling to secure sufficient snow to ensure that there will be the usual range of magnificent ice sculptures.
At a ceremony held Jan. 7 to haul in snow to Odori Park, the main venue, Ryu Shibata, president of the organizing committee, tried to put on a brave face, saying, "We are determined to overcome difficulties and make the festival a success."
December’s snowfall was below the monthly average at all major 22 observation points in Hokkaido, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency’s Sapporo Regional Headquarters.