As of Wednesday, March 21
Below Treeline: MODERATE
Travel Advisory: The 23 cm of storm snow we received early this week arrived with strong winds and fluctuating temperatures, so expect the snow cover in the alpine to vary from soft slabs to areas of scoured crust. In many areas below 2,000 metres the recent series of rain events has left behind significant debris fans that are now refrozen and very rough. A continuing pattern of storms with variable freezing levels will result in rapid changes to the hazard through the weekend.
Avalanche Activity: Widespread natural avalanche activity up to size three was observed on Tuesday, most of which occurred during the recent storm cycle. Testing around the ski areas on Tuesday produced soft slab avalanches from numerous start zones, with most of this activity occurring within the storm snow layers.
Snowpack: In the alpine, most operators in our area are reporting "four finger" slabs over a softer layer and a good bond with the March 16 crust. Stability testing with skis and explosives resulted in size one to two slabs on Tuesday, while snow profiles resulted in mostly moderate compression test results below the surface slab. The March 16 crust itself is expected to be a relatively solid bridging layer. Below 1,600 to 2,000 metres the surface in many if not most areas is very rough and the bond on the storm snow over the crust is good, so avalanche activity is likely to be limited.
Weather: The first week of spring is likely to continue with the recent pattern of wild temperature fluctuations and periods of intense precipitation and wind. A frontal system forecast for Wednesday through Thursday will bring moderate precipitation and low freezing levels. This will be followed with a break in the pattern on Friday that will give way to what appears to be a significant storm arriving on Saturday. This storm will arrive just in time for the weekend with very heavy precipitation and rising freezing levels.
The avalanche hazard is expected to change both frequently and significantly with the forecast volatile weather, so surf to the Canadian Avalanche Association at www.avalanche.ca and follow the links to our region, or go directly to www.whistlerblackcomb.com and find your way to the daily updated avalanche advisory for up to date information. If you're in a hurry or want less detail, Whistler-Blackcomb offers up a brief recorded avalanche advisory over the phone at 604-938-7676.