Avalanche danger at a high all over B.C.'s Interior

Avalanche danger across BC

As the snowpack steadily rises across B.C.'s Interior during this week's storm, the avalanche danger is as high as it's been all season in most areas.

The avalanche danger is rated as high at all elevations in the Kootenay Boundary region, the North and South Columbias, the Purcells and Glacier National Park.

“It's basically a certainty that there will be a widespread natural avalanche cycle during periods of heavy snowfall like this,” said Kate Devine, forecaster with Avalanche Canada. “The avalanche hazard will likely remain high in most areas in the Interior at least into Saturday. It may start to come down Sunday but it's hard to say at this point.”

Devine says the most concerning weak layer in the snowpack is about 80 centimetres down – a layer of “surface hoar” from the first week of December.

“It's very feathery looking, frosty kind of crystals that form on the surface of the snow during cold, clear nights,” Devine said, explaining surface hoar. “When it gets buried it's quite a weak layer that can be somewhat long lasting, it doesn't heal very quickly.”

While Devine recommends staying out of avalanche terrain while the risk remains high, she says the the huge storm cycle could actually reduce the avalanche danger in the long term.

“Sometimes when you have a really intense storm like this, a whole bunch of new snow coming all at once and you have a big avalanche cycle, we call it 'cleaning out' those weak layers ... it sort of eliminates them, so we'll just have to see going forward to see how it played out this time.”

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