A member of the Avalanche Canada South Rockies field team gathers important snowpack data that is used to produce daily avalanche forecasts for the region. Photo by Jennifer Coulter.

A member of the Avalanche Canada South Rockies field team gathers important snowpack data that is used to produce daily avalanche forecasts for the region. Photo by Jennifer Coulter.

Avalanche danger ratings high across Kootenays

Monday’s snow storm is expected to bring an avalanche cycle

Avalanche danger ratings are high across the Kootenay-Boundary region and Monday’s snowfall is expected to cause an avalanche cycle to occur.

According to Avalanche Canada forecasts for Tuesday, December 22, danger levels are high in the alpine territory as well as the treeline and below the treeline.

READ MORE: Winter storm warning in effect for East Kootenay region

Danger ratings are expected to drop down to considerate on Wednesday, however Avalanche Canada is warning of changing conditions.

The snowpack summary from Avalanche Canada says that Monday’s snow storm will continue to load a weak layer around 30 to 60 centimetres deep.

“Riders have reported substantial avalanche activity and whumphing on this layer as well as surprising snowpack test results,” reads the bulletin. “This layer remains a major concern, as humans may be able to trigger large and destructive avalanches on it.”

Avalanche Canada says that travel in alpine terrain at this time is not recommended. Dangers are expected to remain high in the Lizard Range, Flathead Range, Purcells and South Rockies regions.

“It’s now time for very cautious mountain travel. The central and northern part of the (Purcell) region is primed for human-triggered avalanches. More snow is on the way and conditions are not going to get better in the near term,” reads the forecast for the Purcell range.

Conditions are getting worse. Please be aware of the terrain hazards prior to heading out. This report is for the Purcell Mountains.

Posted by Kimberley Search and Rescue on Monday, December 21, 2020

A notice from Avalanche Canada for the South Rockies region says to avoid all avalanche terrain during periods of heavy loading from new snow and wind.

“Shooting cracks, whumphs and recent avalanches are strong indicators of an unstable snowpack,” says the notice. “Storm slabs in motion may step down to deeper layers resulting in large avalanches.”

According to a Facebook post from Avalanche Canada South Rockies, the avalanche danger was obvious in the Lakit area on Sunday.

“We could hear whumpfing sounds as the snow was collapsing under our feet and we triggered a few slab avalanches on steeper terrain just by walking on nearby low angle terrain,” reads the post. “The snow underneath the 30 cm of fresh snow is weak right now and will likely stay that way for awhile.”

Avalanche Canada also recently put out a press release thanking Teck for a decade of support. For ten years, Teck has sponsored Avalanche Canada, enabling the organization to continue to transform avalanche safety.

Teck’s sponsorship led directly to the creation of the South Rockies field team, says the press release. This team gathers snowpack information that is used to produce the daily forecasts for the South Rockies and Lizard/Flathead Ranges.

“Teck is one of our most important sponsors,” says Gilles Valade, Executive Director of Avalanche Canada. “Over the years they have contributed a total of $840,000, allowing us to develop and deliver effective and stable programs for the South Rockies and Flathead regions. Teck demonstrates true corporate responsibility, caring for their employees and their community.”

**7 am UPDATE** For both the Lizard Range/Flathead and the South Rockies regions. The onset of Monday’s storm is a little earlier and warmer than anticipated. Avoid avalanche terrain and overhead hazard.

Posted by Avalanche Canada South Rockies on Monday, December 21, 2020

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