Backcountry Advisory 

As of Wednesday, March 13

We received 84cm. of snow during the latest storm cycle. Monday’s snowfall was accompanied by Southerly winds gusting to 140km/h. at the mountaintops.

A number of natural and skier-triggered avalanches were observed to have occurred in the alpine, as well as at and below the treeline during the storm cycle. At lower elevations the underlying melt-freeze crust provided an easy gliding surface for avalanches to run on. In the alpine where the crust is much weaker and thinner the layer of facets that formed below it during last week’s cold snap is a potential buried weakness.

Avalanche control during the past few days has produced results of up to size 2.5, with crown lines maxing out at 100cm in depth. Some large cornice falls have also been easily triggered. Avalanche activity was observed within the storm snow layers only.

The easy shears that we were seeing within the storm snow layers during the storm cycle and the interface with the old snow surface have since tightened-in and now appear to be Moderate. There are some very fat pockets of wind-deposited snow out there! Be aware that a surface sluff in motion or a cornice fall both have the potential to trigger a much larger avalanche.

Cornices have grown immensely. Some of them can be expected to fall with only slight triggers and could easily squish you like a bug! Give them a wide berth, and try to avoid the temptation to approach the edge for a bit of sightseeing. The sun is packing much more of a punch at this time of year. Be aware of the effect that it may have on the snow stability even with only brief exposure to its rays.

The backcountry avalanche danger is currently rated as CONSIDERABLE in the areas adjoining the Whistler/Blackcomb ski area boundaries.

Daily updates for these areas are available at 604-938-7676, or at www.whistler-blackcomb.com/weather where there is also a link to the CAA public avalanche bulletin.

The current run of long-range computer models are indicating a cool unstable Northwesterly flow to bring periods of snow flurries Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Unseasonably cool temperatures are expected to persist throughout the weekend as a cold pool of arctic air gradually sags down from the North by Sunday.

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