As of Wednesday, March 31
A series of weather systems over the past week is rescuing us from the seemingly never ending near-drought conditions of the late winter months. These weaker storms are bringing much needed snow to the mountains, however, it is spring and temperature swings are sometimes dramatic, even during storms, and sun warming is rapid.
The accumulation of new snow during the latest storm was only 15-20 centimetres at our weather plots, but this added up to 20 to 40 centimetres of snow in start zones in the lee of ridges and other terrain features. Snow profiles are showing moderate shears on last Mondays (March 22) temperature crust and hard shears down around one metre on what is known as the March 9 crust. The latest storm snow, however, came in with fairly warm temperatures and ended with a surprisingly brisk cooling trend, limiting shears. A steep temperature gradient within this storm snow may persist on sheltered aspects while solar heating will take over on solar exposures.
Skier-triggered avalanches were happening in most start zones through the storm on Tuesday, and have been relatively frequent over the past week. This activity has been observed up to size two on slopes immediately adjacent to the ski area, while no one has reported them to the ski patrol. Please be aware that there are several variable shears around crusts in the upper snowpack that have been active and could produce size two avalanches. Also, if you witness or trigger an avalanche, report it to the ski patrol. We like to know if anyone is caught, how big it is and where it is.
The sun is very likely to initiate an avalanche cycle on solar exposed slopes over the next few days, while soft slabs will linger in lee terrain.
The backcountry avalanche danger rating for Wednesday, March, 31 is CONSIDERABLE in the alpine and at treeline, LOW below treeline.
Conditions change very rapidly at this time of year so stay informed at www.avalanche.ca or 604.938.7676. Happy ripping.