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Backcountry Advisory


As of Wednesday, April 11

Although it is tempting to say that winter has arrived a little too late this year, the weather we are receiving is pretty typical of spring. Weak frontal waves have brought light precipitation, associated with moderate winds and fog. These systems have been alternating with clear and warm spring days. When these changes take place we often see heavy precipitation falling through bright rays of sunshine. A term commonly used to describe this type of weather is "unsettled."

New snow has been falling as wonderful, loose, light powder. The underlying surface is, however, a rather unforgiving melt-freeze crust on all but the most sheltered north aspects. Cool temperatures during "storms" have survived as long as the cloud cover has persisted. Sunny days have resulted in alpine temperatures warming 10 degrees C or more. This has lead to buried crusts and somewhat winter-like snow on north aspects, and variable granular refrozen loose snow between crusts on solar exposed slopes.

Weather conditions are changing quickly from day to day, although the major variable has been daily warming. A change in weather is forecast for Thursday afternoon, while moderate north winds are redistributing light snow from north aspects back over ridges to usual windward slopes this Wednesday morning. Soft slabs have been reactive to even small amounts of solar warming, and the number of melt-freeze crusts continues to grow with each storm cycle.

Old buried instabilities are not currently considered a large threat, although they should not be discounted completely. Cornice noses are fairly fragile during freeze-thaw conditions, but the current north winds are eroding them a little. The backcountry avalanche danger rating for the areas adjacent to the Whistler-Blackcomb ski areas on Wednesday April 11 is MODERATE . Be prepared for rapid changes in weather and don't assume that conditions you have seen or skied through the day today will be the same tomorrow.

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