SAPPORO, Japan (AP) — After two months of almost no snow, Japan’s northern city of Sapporo was overwhelmed with the white stuff.
Earlier this month, about 14 inches (34 centimeters) fell in just six hours following the nearly barren months of December and January.
The snowfall was good news for tourism, for the “look” of the annual Sapporo Snow Festival, and for organizers who hope to bring the 2030 Winter Olympics to the city. Sapporo hosted the Winter Olympics back in 1972.
But the lack of snow — and then an abundance of it — is also a sign that the local climate is changing, which has researchers in the area watching the weather very closely.
“We often have this kind of event,” Dr. Tomonori Sato, an associate professor at Hokkaido University, told The Associated Press. “However, the magnitude was abnormal. This maybe is because of warming temperatures.”
Trucks had to bring in snow from everywhere to keep the festival going, an event that attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists. The city’s 40-year-old ski marathon event was cancelled due to a lack of snow.
Paul Sheehan, an Australian who has been coming to Japan for several years to build snow sculptures, noticed the difference this time in Sapporo’s Odori Park.
“Previous years, we’ve had three, four meters of snow,” he said. “Where we are standing now, last year we were a meter higher. We are now standing one meter lower.”
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