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Record-setting early snowfall covers top of Hokkaido mountain

An area near the peak of Mount Kurodake in central Hokkaido is covered with the first snow of the season in the early morning of Aug. 17, the earliest snowfall recorded since 1974. (Photo courtesy of Rinyu Kanko Co.)

ASAHIKAWA, Hokkaido -- Mount Kurodake in the town of Kamikawa in the northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido had its first snow of the season on Aug. 17, the earliest snowfall observed there since records began being kept in 1974.

The snow near the peak of the 1,984-meter-high mountain among the Daisetsuzan Volcanic Group was more than a month earlier than last year's, which fell on Sept. 28. The previous earliest snowfall date on record was Aug. 21, 2002. The average date is Sept. 18.

The snow was reported by Rinyu Kanko Co., a Sapporo-based firm that operates a ropeway on the mountain. According to the company, the manager of an evacuation cabin about 700 meters from the peak noticed the falling snow at around 1 a.m. on Aug. 17, and areas surrounding the structure were thinly covered in white by early morning.

According to the Japan Meteorological Agency's Sapporo Regional Headquarters, a mass of chilly air swept over Hokkaido following the passage of a low pressure system. The lowest temperature in Sapporo in the early hours of Aug. 17 was 13.4 degrees Celsius, 5.7 degrees lower than the average for this time of year, and about the same as the mid-September average.

(Japanese original by Nobuyuki Yokota and Yoshimasa Abe, Hokkaido News Department)

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