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Backcountry Advisory

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As of Wednesday March 17

Moderate winds and light snowfall amounts have allowed thin wind slabs and some soft slabs to build into lee start zones in the alpine. These slabs are reactive to skier traffic and will produce small size one avalanches. The surface below the soft surface snow is a variable crust on all aspects that has been observed even on north facing slopes up to 2,200 metres. This crust is very hard in most areas, allowing no ski penetration, and very rough in many areas.

A storm system is forecast to reach our area from the Gulf of Alaska on Wednesday night and is expected to bring more snow to the mountains than we have seen in a while. A rapid rise in freezing level overnight on Wednesday is expected to be followed by an equally fast drop in freezing level on Thursday. 20 to 40 mm of precipitation over 24 to 36 hours plus wind and fluctuating temperatures may result in a very reactive avalanche cycle. Naturals are likely during the storm and skier-triggered slabs are likely following the front’s passage, especially considering the hard bed surface. Clear skies on Saturday could trigger an additional natural wet avalanche cycle.

Avalanche debris that accumulated after last Monday's wet avalanche cycle will be another thing to consider. This debris is literally frozen solid and poses a threat as an additional and unusual terrain trap.

Keep in mind that conditions can change rapidly, and while confidence in the current forecast is good, anything can happen. The Backcountry Avalanche Danger is currently rated as MODERATE and is expected to trend toward HIGH by Thursday.

Stay informed at www.avalanche.ca, on the Whistler-Blackcomb Web site, or by calling 604-938-7676.

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