As snow falls in some areas of B.C., snowpack concerns grow

Concern over avalanches

Snow has been hitting the Revelstoke area hard over the past couple of days, with another 25 centimetres expected to fall overnight. And while this is great news for powder-hounds, it has also increased the avalanche danger in the area.

“We're reaching a threshold amount. Up until last week, there was not a lot of snow below treeline, but we're currently building that snowpack,” said Mark Bender, senior avalanche forecast with Avalanche Canada. “The snow is becoming enough that there is enough snow even at the low elevations to produce avalanches.”

In the South and North Columbia regions, the avalanche danger rating currently sits at considerable below treeline, at treeline and in the alpine, while Glacier National Park, including Rogers Pass, sits at a high rating in the alpine and considerable below that.

Bender expects the anticipated snow overnight will only increase the danger.

Bender says anytime a significant amount of snow falls in a short period of time, the avalanche danger increases. That hasn't been much of an issue closer to Kelowna, where conditions have proven much drier. As such, the avalanche danger rating for the Kootenay Boundary region sits at moderate in the alpine and treeline, and low below the treeline.

While storm snow can cause shorter term avalanche concerns, Bender says there are some long-term issues in the snowpack in parts of the province as well.

“There's at least one, if not two, buried weak layers in the snowpack, and we've just currently increased the weight sitting on those weak layers, so it's too early to tell, but I would say people should adopt a cautious approach, even after this stormy period ends,” he said.

“We just don't know how the snowpack is going to react to the new amount of snow sitting on top.”

Up-to-date avalanche conditions, along with user-submitted reports, can be found here.

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