Kootenay Boundary Avalanche Forecast

Issued: Dec 20th, 2021 4:00PM

Tue Dec 21st Current Conditions
Alpine Considerable Treeline Moderate Below Treeline Low
Wed Dec 22nd 2 Day Outlook
Alpine High Treeline Considerable Below Treeline Moderate
Thu Dec 23rd 3 Day Outlook
Alpine High Treeline High Below Treeline Considerable

The alpine rating is considerable, the treeline rating is moderate, and the below treeline rating is low. Known problems include Wind Slabs and Persistent Slabs.

Northwest winds may form wind slabs in areas that are usually more windward, which could catch riders off guard. 

Seek out sheltered terrain where you can avoid these wind slabs and find better riding.

Summary

Confidence

Moderate - Uncertainty is due to the speed, direction, or duration of the wind and its effect on the snowpack. Uncertainty is due to the fact that persistent slabs are particularly difficult to forecast.

Weather Forecast

Monday Overnight: Mainly clear with light to moderate northwest winds at ridgetop. Alpine temperatures around -15 C.

Tuesday: Cloud cover increasing in the afternoon. Moderate winds shifting southwest. Temperatures rising to -10 C in the alpine. Snowfall beginning overnight with 5-15 cm of accumulation.

Wednesday: A stormy day. Moderate to strong southwest winds will accompany 15-30 cm of new snow accumulation. Freezing levels rising to 500m in the afternoon. Continued snowfall overnight with another 10-30 cm of accumulation.

Thursday: Snowfall continuing into the morning with another 5-15 cm of accumulation. Winds easing into the afternoon into the light to moderate range from the southwest. Some clearing possible for the afternoon. Freezing levels dropping to valley bottom. 

Avalanche Summary

On Sunday, recreationalists in the Kootenay Pass area observed hard results in a compression test on the early December crust. In this area the crust was buried about 1 meter deep. See the MIN report here.

On Saturday, operators reported several natural and human triggered storm slab avalanches up to size 1 in the alpine and treeline.

Snowpack Summary

2-5mm surface hoar growth has been reported on the snow surface throughout the region formed overnight on Sunday. In the Kootenay Pass and Nelson area, this overlies a thin rain crust formed from warm temperatures during Saturday's storm. 

Saturday's storm brought 10-30 cm of new snow to the region. Moderate northwest winds overnight and into today will create pockets of fresh wind slab in the alpine and treeline. 

Below the new snow, 20-60 cm of more consolidated snow overlies a substantial crust that formed in early December. This crust is 10cm thick on average and is present across all aspects to at least 2300m. A layer of weak facets (sugary snow) has been reported above this crust in Kootenay Pass and the Whitewater backcountry, and likely exists in other areas. This problem is particularly hard to predict and tricky to manage. For this reason wide, conservative terrain margins and disciplined backcountry travel techniques will be very important. Get more details and photos in our forecaster blog

The lower snowpack is composed of several early season crusts. Snow depths at treeline average 150-200 cm. Below 1800m the snowpack remains relatively shallow with 80-120cm on average. The deepest snowpack can be found in the Kootenay Pass area.

Terrain and Travel

  • Be careful as you transition into wind affected terrain.
  • Be aware of highly variable recent wind loading patterns.
  • Be aware of the potential for large avalanches due to the presence of buried persistent weak layers.
  • Avoid rock outcroppings, convexities, and anywhere the snowpack is thin and/or variable.

Problems

Wind Slabs

An icon showing Wind Slabs

Likelihood

Possible

Expected Size

1 - 2

Saturday's storm brought 10-30cm of new snow to the region. Moderate northwest winds will continue to redistribute this new snow into wind slabs in the alpine and open treeline. The northerly component to the wind could create loading in areas that are usually windward, which may catch riders off guard.

In the Whitewater area, surface hoar has been reported below the new snow. This will make slabs more widespread and increase the reactivity and propagation potential. Be suspicious of any areas treeline and below where a slab exists, especially in sheltered areas where this surface hoar may be preserved.

Aspects:

North, North East, East, South East, South.

Elevations:

Alpine, Treeline.

Persistent Slabs

An icon showing Persistent Slabs

Likelihood

Unlikely-Possible

Expected Size

1.5 - 3.5

A layer of weak facets (sugary snow) can be found down 50-120 cm over a crust that formed in early December. This layer has shown reactivity in snowpack tests. Avoid likely trigger spots such as steep, convex slopes, with a shallow or thick to thin snowpack. 

Aspects:

All aspects.

Elevations:

All elevations.

Valid until: Dec 21st, 2021 4:00PM

Forecast Trend

The latest forecast danger ratings, broken down to elevation. See how an elevation is trending.