North Columbia Avalanche Forecast

Issued: Jan 2nd, 2022 4:00PM

Mon Jan 3rd Current Conditions
Alpine Considerable Treeline Considerable Below Treeline Moderate
Tue Jan 4th 2 Day Outlook
Alpine Considerable Treeline Moderate Below Treeline Moderate
Wed Jan 5th 3 Day Outlook
Alpine Moderate Treeline Moderate Below Treeline Low

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

New snow and wind will form touchy storm slabs at all elevations. Keep terrain selection conservative until storm snow gains strength.

In localised areas that receive more than 30cm of new snow, avalanche danger will be HIGH.

Summary

Confidence

Moderate - Uncertainty is due to the track & intensity of the incoming weather system.

Weather Forecast

SUNDAY NIGHT: Moderate to strong southerly winds. 5-10cm possible overnight. Locally heavy accumulations are possible near Revelstoke and southern areas, with up to 20cm possible overnight. 

MONDAY: Up to 5-15cm of snow, tapering off in the afternoon. Alpine high of -10 with light southwest winds.

TUESDAY: Chance of flurries with light southeast winds. Alpine high of -15. 

WEDNESDAY: Clearing skies, isolated flurries. Light southwest winds. Alpine high of -15. 

Avalanche Summary

Slabs in wind loaded features continue to be reactive to human triggers, producing avalanches up to size 2, on all aspects from the recent variable winds. As snowfall accumulates on top of these slabs they will be harder to identify. 

Cornice falls have triggered numerous slabs this week, as they land on the slopes below. Navigate around cornices carefully (both on ridgelines and on the slopes below them with care - they are able to effect deeply buried weak layers. 

Several large and destructive persistent slab avalanches have been naturally and skier triggered in the over the last week up to size 3, failing on the early December crust/facet interface. Each had wide propagation and ran several hundred metres. The avalanches were all triggered in a rocky and thin area. This layer is still extremely concerning and will likely be for most of the season.

We'd appreciate if you submit your observations to the Mountain Information Network, even just a photo.

Snowpack Summary

Storm snow with strong south-southwest winds continue to form new slabs with deeper deposits on north and east facing slopes. This load will be deposited on weak and wind effected surfaces - expect a poor bond and reactive conditions. 

A layer of weak surface hoar crystals can be found 30-50cm deep in sheltered terrain features at alpine and treeline elevations, and in open features like cut blocks below treeline. Although avalanche activity hasn't been prominent on this layer, it has been reactive in snowpack tests.

The crust formed by the early December rain event sits 100-150cm deep and is found up to 2200m in the North Columbia's. Weak and faceted grains sit above, creating a weak interface that is still reactive to human triggers. This layer is most reactive at treeline, and in areas where the snowpack thins and the weak interface is much closer to the surface. This layer has the potential to produce large and destructive avalanches if triggered. Recent activity in the North Columbia's has been limited to explosive triggers - however the southern Selkirks have seen significant skier triggered activity on this layer to size 3.5.

Terrain and Travel

  • Storm snow and wind is forming touchy slabs. Use caution in lee areas in the alpine and treeline.
  • Approach steep open slopes at and below treeline cautiously, buried surface hoar may exist.
  • As the storm slab problem gets trickier, the easy solution is to choose more conservative terrain.
  • Avoid shallow, rocky areas where the snowpack transitions from thick to thin.

Problems

Storm Slabs

An icon showing Storm Slabs

Likelihood

Likely-Very Likely

Expected Size

1 - 2

Storm slabs will build with continued snowfall over the day. Strong south/southwest winds will create deeper deposits in wind loaded features, use caution approaching ridge crest and cross loaded features. 

Reactive slabs are expected as new snow falls over weak crystals and wind effected surfaces. Larger avalanches could be triggered in sheltered treeline terrain features where slabs are forming over surface hoar.

Aspects:

All aspects.

Elevations:

All elevations.

Persistent Slabs

An icon showing Persistent Slabs

Likelihood

Unlikely-Possible

Expected Size

2 - 3.5

Weak faceted grains above the early December crust continue to produce unpredictable large destructive avalanches. This layer is found around 80 to 150 cm deep and is most common concerning at treeline elevations. Terrain management skills are essential in dealing with this problem - avoid exposure to large unsupported slopes and thin and rocky start zones. This layer will be an ongoing issue this season. Read more about it here.

Aspects:

All aspects.

Elevations:

Treeline, Below Treeline.

Valid until: Jan 3rd, 2022 4:00PM

Forecast Trend

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