Backcountry Advisory 

As of Wednesday, Nov. 28 2001

The early season snowfalls that had everyone excited in October gave way to monsoon-like conditions during the first several weeks in November. Roller coaster freezing levels accompanied each of the rainy events, leaving us with a rain-soaked snowpack, and several ice crusts.

The most recent ice crust formed after freezing levels fell on November the 20 th . Snow profiles compiled this week have found this crust to be resting anywhere from at the surface to as far as 50 cm down. Subsequent cooling has resulted in a very strong temperature gradient within the upper 50 cm snowpack. As a result, the surface layers of snow have since become faceted, particularly in any areas where the crust is not buried very deep. This unconsolidated crystal formation has a very smooth sliding surface below it. The storm that is rapidly winding-up at the time of this writing will likely result in significant wind-slab formation on top of these potential sliding layers. It doesn’t take a snow-creep to figure out what is likely to happen given this scenerio, or how long some of these weaknesses may persist.

As the below freezing temperatures penetrate deeper into the snowpack, the moist layers which can still be found below the Nov. 16 th rain crust will freeze into a cohesive mass.

Most of the long-range weather models are converging and are indicating that we are into more of an on-shore flow. Aside from a spike in the freezing levels on Saturday, freezing levels are expected to remain close to the valley.

The Backcountry Avalanche Danger at the time of this writing is Moderate, but is expected to rapidly increase with the arrival of the incoming storm-cycle.

Conditions may vary and can change rapidly. Contact your local ski patrol for the most current conditions before heading out into the backcountry adjacent to the ski areas, or call the backcountry advisory phone-line at 604-938-7676. Information can also be obtained from the Canadian Avalanche Association at 1-800-667-1105 or better yet, visit their Web site at www.avalanche.ca

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