North Rockies Avalanche Forecast - Feb. 15, 2020

It's time to back off this weekend as new snow & wind continue to fuel storm slabs that are expected to remain sensitive to both human and natural triggering. Stick to simple avalanche terrain and avoid overhead hazard. Careful in the trees, buried weak layers exist there too.

The North Rockies region encompasses the Rocky Mountains from Highway 16 in the south to Hudson's Hope in the north, spanning the BC-Alberta border. 

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Saturday

Alpine - High
Treeline - Considerable

Below treeline - Considerable

Sunday

Alpine - Considerable
Treeline - Considerable

Below treeline - Considerable

Monday

Alpine - Considerable

Treeline - Considerable
Below treeline - Considerable

Avalanche Summary

Throughout the storm there has been a widespread natural avalanche cycle to size 2 within the storm snow. Continued snow and wind are expected to continue to fuel this avalanche cycle.

Snowpack Summary

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday produced 50 (Kakwa) to 100 (Torpy) cm of storm snow under mild temperatures and moderate wind from the south, southwest and southeast. Easy sudden planar shears and wide spread storm slabs have been observed in all of the new snow. The presence of buried surface hoar about 50 cm below the surface has been confirmed in both the Pine Pass and Torpy zones, it may be more widespread throughout the region too.

Below all the recent storm snow there is a thin rain crust from the warm, wet storm on Feb 01. This rain crust has been reported to exist up to treeline elevations around 1700 m. Initially this layer was described as reactive and was the focus of a number of avalanches. With up to a meter of new snow on it it could become active again this weekend.

Deep in the the mid-pack there may still be a layer of surface hoar buried in late December. It's gaining strength, but should remain a concern since snowpack tests still demonstrate this layer has the potential to slide, albeit in isolated areas and/or with very large triggers. 

Weather Forecast

SATURDAY: Overcast, freezing level at valley bottom, moderate to strong west/northwest wind, 5 to 15 cm of snow expected.

SUNDAY: Broken cloud cover, freezing level at valley bottom, light to moderate west/northwest wind, 5 to 10 cm of snow expected.

MONDAY: Broken cloud cover, freezing level at valley bottom, moderate west/northwest wind, trace of snow possible.

Travel and Terrain Advice

  • Avoid all avalanche terrain during periods of heavy loading from new snow and wind.
     
  • Be aware of the potential for remote triggering and large, deep avalanches due to the presence of buried surface hoar.
     
  • Avoid freshly wind loaded features, especially near ridge crests, roll-overs and in steep terrain.
     
  • Back off if you encounter whumpfing, hollow sounds, or shooting cracks.
     
  • Cornice failure may trigger large avalanches.
avalanche-forecast.26_12172.jpg
A map of the North Rockies. - Avalanche Canada image
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