As of Wednesday, Dec. 3
A series of systems during the past few weeks deposited up to 1 metre of low density snow in the Alpine regions. The strong winds that accompanied each storm cycle left us with a noticeably thin snowpack on any slopes exposed to it, while lee slopes closer to treeline have been fattening up nicely.
A series of natural avalanche cycles occurred during the storms, with the storm snow weakness tightening in rapidly after the passage of each system.
Cool temperatures during this period relulted in the formation of weak faceted snow crystals most noteably in rocky areas with shallow snow cover. Some cool clear nights were also conducive to the formation of surface hoar. In spite of the cold temperatures at the time, an ice lens also formed on the surface of the snow last week due to the passage of some warm air aloft.
Periodical snow profiles conducted throughout the past weak revealed a number of shears within the snowpack varying from easy to hard within some of the aformentioned layers of snow. However, the more recent milder temperatures have generally helped to strenghten the snowpack, leaving us with no apparent glaring weakness within the basal layers of snow.
Another system was upon us on Tuesday, bringing with it winds gusting to 90 km/h at the mountain tops, and rapidly rising freezing levels which hovered at 1,700 metres for most of the day. Freezing levels plummeted behind the storm last night, with the rain-soaked layers below treeline quickly seizing up. Although much of the exposed alpine terrain has been scoured by the srong Southerly winds, watch out for any stiff fat pockets lee of any terrain features!
After Wednesdays sunny breaks, the long range forecast is calling for a series of systems to bring periods of moderate to heavy snowfall to our region starting on Thursday, and continuing through to Sunday.
The avalanche Danger is currently rated as Moderate, but is expected to rapidly increase later in the week with the arrival of the forecated heavy snowfalls. Conditions may vary and can change rapidly. Check out www.avalanche.ca for the most recent public avalanche bulletins throughout B.C. For the backcountry areas adjoining Whistler and Blackcomb mountains call 604-938-7676 for the most current information.
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