Heavy snowfall in Ishikawa

Hey everyone, in this post, I wanted to share some pictures from our last huge snowstorm so that you can see how winter in Kanazawa can be! I knew that there is a high probability for snow in winter when I came here. I also heard about the bad snowstorm from winter 2018, when Niklas visited the city for the first time and sent me crazy pictures of huge snow piles, vanished cars and white mountains. But still, this didn’t prepare me for the reality of a full blown blizzard that took several days to pass and shut down the whole area of Hokuriku in hours!

Reason for heavy snowfall in Ishikawa

As stated in this article, the area of Hokuriku is likely to see heavy snowfall because of the geographical position (facing the sea of Japan): in winter, the the northwestern monsoon gets stronger, storing moisture at the Sea of Japan and when this hits the mountain ranges that are located at the center of Hokuriku, it creates a lot of clouds that dump the heavy moisture as snow.

Therefore, you can expect a lot of snow when this weather phenomenon has started as it won’t stop until late February! The temperature usually never gets colder than -2 or -3 degrees, making the snow really wet and heavy. Shoveling snow can be really tough and will definitely train your whole body.

Also special for Ishikawa: winter thunderstorms. Sometimes they can last for hours. Bright lightning and loud thunder during a stormy winter day? I am still not used to that. If you want to know why, you can read more in this scientific article here.

You can see the typical thunderstorm clouds on this picture.

Snowstorm impressions

We have seen some snow during the New Year time and even before, but this time, warnings about a huge storm were already circulating in the local news days before it was supposed to hit the area. When I went to our big supermarket to buy some last minute food one day before the storm was supposed to arrive, I couldn’t believe my eyes: no eggs, no meat, no bread - nothing! Everything was sold out. That hadn’t even happened during the State of Emergency last year, where everyone rushed to the supermarkets to buy toilet paper and lots of food. As you can imagine, I was really worried when I came home after that trip.

Nothing left for me to buy…

The first day, it was not really snowing but extremely windy, even more than during most of the big typhoon storms we experienced in the past two years. It was really scary and I was worried our windows might break. Lucky for us, everything was okay and we didn’t have problems with power outage like other parts of Kanazawa. The temperature dropped a lot and in the night, the snow fall began.

Basically, it was snowing non stop for three days. Only sometimes you could see the sun for three minutes, before the next cloud arrived and the snow started again. During the days, it was so bright, you couldn’t really see when you went outside. Within hours, the snow was piling up so high that the streets were completely white and the snow trucks couldn’t clean it anymore. It was extreme!

Cars are starting to vanish

We saw many cars that got stuck in the snow and even more people trying to help and digging in the snow. Together with Natsuki, we went out in her car on one of that days and it was crazy! Everything was white, you couldn’t see the road anymore and the snow would not stop falling. Lucky for us, we had no problems getting back home and I could film some interesting snow scenes (cars that got stuck, cars that had problems driving because the road was blocked with snow and ice, etc) from the safety of her warm car.

View from the car

We were the last customers of this store on that day - at 11 am in the morning.

When there were small snow breaks, we would go out and have a look at the huge snow piles and walk around (or more accurate: fight our way through the snow) in our snowy neighborhood. I was really surprised about the amount of snow. As you can imagine, I took many pictures and felt a little guilty because I really enjoyed walking through the deep snow while most people struggled to free their cars or their driveways and were absolutely not happy about the situation.

Where is the car?

However, on the last day of the storm we had a really wonderful sunny day which turned the whole area into winter wonderland. It looked so beautiful, I couldn’t stop looking outside and admiring the combination of the blue sky and the white snow.

Early morning view - welcome to winter wonderland!

Our neighbor’s house looked so beautiful

Good luck digging your car out!

We took a long walk (which was super exhausting as it was very difficult to get around in the high snow) along the Asanoriver and enjoyed the clear air and the sunlight.

Looked so nice in the sun with all that snow

Going to the store is not easy

Now, the big snow has vanished and the roads are free again. The life went back to normal after some days and now, most of the days it’s raining and not so much snowing. Pretty uncomfortable if you ask me…

Up next

We are back to normal, at least regarding our work. COVID numbers are rising fast in Japan, a new state of emergency has been issued for several prefectures and every day, there are new prefectures that join the state of emergency. We are waiting what will happen in Ishikawa. Therefore, no new travel plans for us for the moment. :( Still, we try to enjoy our free time as best as possible, so next time I’ll give you an update about our first weeks in 2021 - but don’t expect crazy or adventurous things!