North Rockies Avalanche Forecast - February 16, 2021

Travel cautiously - the snowpack is suspect and avalanches are possible in a wide variety of terrain. Read more about managing these conditions in this forecaster blog.


Alpine - Moderate
Treeline - Moderate
Below treeline - Moderate

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Alpine - Moderate
Treeline - Moderate
Below treeline - Moderate


Alpine - Moderate
Treeline - Moderate
Below treeline - Moderate

Avalanche Summary

There were a few reports of human triggered avalanches over the weekend including some small (size 1.5) sled triggered slab avalanches near Renshaw (MIN report) and some small dry loose avalanches in northern parts of the region where the persistent weak layer is shallowly buried. Prior to the cold snap, during the first week of February, there were numerous small human triggered avalanches on the same problematic persistent weak layer as well as some large natural avalanches. There are some great visuals of that activity in this MIN.

Snowpack Summary

It's time to monitor subtle changes in the upper snowpack as we leave a prolonged cold snap. A dusting of new snow and northwest wind could make upper elevation wind slabs more reactive, while warming temperatures could promote more reactive slabs above the widespread persistent surface hoar layer. This layer is already 40 cm deep around Torpy and McBride, but only 15-25 cm deep further north. Reports suggest this layer is most prevalent around treeline elevations, but likely reaches into the alpine and down into the trees too. It may sit above a crust below 1600 m. There are presently no deeper concerns in the snowpack.

Weather Forecast

TUESDAY - Clearing skies in the north with 2-5 cm of snow in the south, moderate northwest wind, treeline temperatures around -10 C.

WEDNESDAY - Sunny with a few clouds, light to moderate northwest wind, treeline temperatures around -8 C.

THURSDAY - Mostly cloudy, strong south wind, treeline temperatures around -6 C.

Travel and Terrain Advice

  • Watch for signs of instability like whumpfing, hollow sounds, shooting cracks or recent avalanches.
  • Approach steep open slopes at and below treeline cautiously, buried surface hoar may exist.
  • Be careful with wind slabs, especially in steep, unsupported and/or convex terrain features.
  • Use ridges or ribs to avoid areas of wind loaded snow.


A map of the North Rockies. - Avalanche Canada image
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