[SS]

Avalanche Bulletin - Banff, Yoho and Kootenay National Parks

Issued Sat Jan 24, 2015 17:00
Valid Until Sun Jan 25, 2015 17:00
Triggering an avalanche is likely, and large natural avalanches are possible over the next couple of days due to warm temperatures, strong West winds and recent new snow. SH

        

Danger Ratings: Sunday

alpine treeline below treeline alpine: 3 - Considerable, treeline: 3 - Considerable, below treeline: 2 - Moderate
alpine: 3 - Considerable
3 - Considerable Dangerous avalanche conditions. Careful snowpack evaluation, cautious route-finding and conservative decision-making essential.
  • Dangerous avalanche conditions. Careful snowpack evaluation, cautious route-finding and conservative decision-making essential.
  • Natural avalanches possible; human-triggered avalanches likely.
  • Small avalanches in many areas; or large avalanches in specific areas; or very large avalanches in isolated areas.
More...
treeline: 3 - Considerable
3 - Considerable Dangerous avalanche conditions. Careful snowpack evaluation, cautious route-finding and conservative decision-making essential.
  • Dangerous avalanche conditions. Careful snowpack evaluation, cautious route-finding and conservative decision-making essential.
  • Natural avalanches possible; human-triggered avalanches likely.
  • Small avalanches in many areas; or large avalanches in specific areas; or very large avalanches in isolated areas.
More...
below treeline: 2 - Moderate
2 - Moderate Heightened avalanche conditions on specific terrain features. Evaluate snow and terrain carefully; identify features of concern.
  • Heightened avalanche conditions on specific terrain features. Evaluate snow and terrain carefully; identify features of concern.
  • Natural avalanches unlikely; human-triggered avalanches possible.
  • Small avalanches in specific areas; or large avalanches in isolated areas.
More...
Forecast Monday Tuesday
alpine
3 - Considerable 2 - Moderate
treeline 3 - Considerable 2 - Moderate
below treeline 2 - Moderate 1 - Low
Confidence: Fair - Timing or intensity of solar radiation is uncertain on Sunday

Weather Observations

Past 24 Hr WeatherSimpson 2115/2320mBow Summit 2040mSunshine 2200m
Maximum (°C)Not AvailableNot AvailableNot Available
Minimum (°C)Not AvailableNot AvailableNot Available
Snowfall (cm)Not AvailableNot AvailableNot Available
Snow Pack (cm)Not AvailableNot AvailableNot Available
Wind speedNot AvailableNot AvailableNot Available
Ridgetop wind directionNot AvailableNot AvailableNot Available
Past 24 Hr WeatherSimpson 2115/2320mBow Summit 2040mSunshine 2200m
Maximum (°C)Not AvailableNot AvailableNot Available
Minimum (°C)Not AvailableNot AvailableNot Available
Snowfall (cm)Not AvailableNot AvailableNot Available
Snow Pack (cm)Not AvailableNot AvailableNot Available
Wind speedNot AvailableNot AvailableNot Available
Ridgetop wind directionNot AvailableNot AvailableNot Available
Low Moderate Considerable High Extreme
  • Generally safe avalanche conditions. Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features.
  • Natural and human-triggered avalanches unlikely.
  • Small avalanches in isolated areas or extreme terrain.
  • Heightened avalanche conditions on specific terrain features. Evaluate snow and terrain carefully; identify features of concern.
  • Natural avalanches unlikely; human-triggered avalanches possible.
  • Small avalanches in specific areas; or large avalanches in isolated areas.
  • Dangerous avalanche conditions. Careful snowpack evaluation, cautious route-finding and conservative decision-making essential.
  • Natural avalanches possible; human-triggered avalanches likely.
  • Small avalanches in many areas; or large avalanches in specific areas; or very large avalanches in isolated areas.
  • Very dangerous avalanche conditions. Travel in avalanche terrain not recommended.
  • Natural avalanches likely; human-triggered avalanches very likely.
  • Large avalanches in many areas; or very large avalanches in specific areas.
  • Avoid all avalanche terrain.
  • Natural and human-triggered avalanches certain.
  • Large to very large avalanches in many areas.

Problem 1: Wind Slabs

Which Elevation?

Which Elevation? alpine, treeline

Which Slopes?

Which Slopes? north, northeast, east, southeast, south

Chance of Avalanches?

Chance of Avalanches? likely

Expected Size?

Expected Size? small - large
New wind slabs will be continuing to form in open areas above tree line with the strong W winds, new snow and warm temperatures. These will be prone to human triggering over the next few days.

Travel and Terrain Advice

  • Be careful with wind loaded pockets while approaching and climbing ice routes.
  • If triggered the wind slabs may step down to deeper layers resulting in large avalanches.

Problem 2: Deep Persistent Slabs

Which Elevation?

Which Elevation? alpine, treeline

Which Slopes?

Which Slopes? north, northeast, east, southeast, south, southwest, west, northwest

Chance of Avalanches?

Chance of Avalanches? possible

Expected Size?

Expected Size? small - large
In shallower snowpack areas (most of the region) the weak base of the snowpack persists and could be triggered in steep, rocky terrain features. Although in some areas, the Dec. 18th layer persists, management of both layers should be the same.

Travel and Terrain Advice

  • Be aware of the potential for wide propagations.
  • Avoid thin, rocky or sparsely-treed slopes.

Problem 3: Loose Wet

Which Elevation?

Which Elevation? alpine, treeline, below treeline

Which Slopes?

Which Slopes? south, southeast, east, southwest

Chance of Avalanches?

Chance of Avalanches? possible - likely

Expected Size?

Expected Size? small - small
Strong winds may keep snow surfaces cool at upper elevations, but thin rocky areas on solar aspects should be suspect to warming, and may trigger the weaker basal layers and subsequent larger avalanches.

Travel and Terrain Advice

  • Watch for clues, like sluffing off of cliffs, that the snowpack is warming up.

Problem Glossary

Loose Dry:
  • Are usually small, but may gain significant mass on long steep slopes.
  • Are typically limited to steep terrain (40+ degrees).
  • Stabilize soon after a storm, usually within a few days.
Loose dry avalanches are best managed by:
  • Avoiding terrain traps and large steep slopes until the surface has stabilized.
  • On large steep slopes, occasionally move across the fall line to avoid being caught by your own sluffs from above.

Loose Wet:
  • Are more powerful than loose dry avalanches due to their higher density.
  • Are often limited to sunny slope aspects.
  • Are commonly confined to the warmest part of the day.
Loose wet avalanches are best managed by:
  • Avoiding start zones and avalanche paths when the snow becomes moist from daytime heating, from rain, or does not freeze overnight.

Wind Slabs:
  • Vary in size from small to medium.
  • Occur on steeper lee and cross-loaded portions of slopes (typically 35+ degrees).
  • Are often limited to specific terrain features such as lee ridge-tops.
  • Can often be recognized by the appearance of the snow surface, changes in surface snow hardness, hollow, drum-like sounds and/or shooting cracks.
  • Winds that vary in strength and direction can produce complex and unexpected wind slab patterns.
  • Stabilize fairly soon, usually in a few days to a week.
Wind slabs are best managed by:
  • Recognizing and avoiding areas where wind slabs have formed, until they have stabilized.

Storm Slabs:
  • Vary in size from small to very large.
  • May be soft slabs, fooling people into underestimating slab potential.
  • Tend to occur on moderately steep slopes (35+ degrees).
  • May occur in all terrain, but are larger and more frequent in the alpine.
  • Stabilize soon after a storm, usually within a few days.
Storm slabs are best managed by:
  • Conservative terrain choices during and after storms until the storm snow has stabilized.

Wet Slabs:
  • Involve wet layers in the snowpack, typically including deeper layers.
  • Tend to be large.
  • Occur when water forms or penetrates below the surface of the snowpack.
Wet slabs are best managed by: 
  • Avoiding start zones and avalanche paths when the snow becomes wet from daytime heating, rain, or lack of an overnight freeze.

Persistent Slabs:
  • Slide on buried persistent weak layers, which often form during clear periods and may involve deeper layers from multiple storms.
  • Vary in size from medium to very large and may cross terrain barriers to involve multiple slide paths.
  • May occur on very gentle terrain, even slopes of 20 degrees or less.
  • May be localized to specific elevations, aspects, or regions.
  • There are often no visible signs of persistent slab instability.
  • Lack of avalanche activity and lack of danger signs are NOTreliable indicators of stability.
  • Compression tests and Rutschblock tests may locate persistent weak layers.
  • Stabilize slowly, tending to persist for several weeks or longer.
  • Often have dormant periods, becoming active again when the weather changes.
  • Are prone to lingering pockets of instability that persist long after most areas have stabilized.
  • Tend to release above the trigger, making it difficult to escape.
  • Are often triggered remotely from a long distance away.
Persistent slabs are best managed by:
  • Very conservative terrain choices.
  • Allow extra time for persistent slabs to stabilize and use a very cautious approach to new terrain. Be especially cautious after storms or during warming periods.

Deep Persistent Slabs:
  • Slide on deeply buried persistent weak layers, which often form during clear periods or rain-on-snow events early in the season.
  • Involve thick, hard slabs, sometimes the entire snowpack.
  • Tend to be very large, commonly cross terrain barriers to involve multiple slide paths.
  • Tend to occur on larger slopes of moderate steepness, typically 30-40 degrees.
  • May be localized to specific elevations, aspects, or regions.
  • There are often no visible signs of persistent deep slab instability.
  • Lack of avalanche activity and lack of danger signs are NOT reliable indicators of stability.
  • Stabilize slowly if at all, persisting for months and often the entire season.
  • Dormant persistent deep slab instabilities often become active again when the weather changes, especially after storms or with warm spring weather.
  • Tend to release above the trigger, making it difficult to escape.
  • Are often triggered remotely from a long distance away.

Deep persistent slabs are best managed by:

  • Very conservative terrain choices and a very cautious approach to new terrain.
  • Be especially cautious after storms or during warming periods.

Cornices:
  • May trigger large slab avalanches on relatively stable slopes below.
  • Are often associated with recent wind loading and/or temperature changes.
  • Can be triggered from ridges, sometimes breaking surprisingly far back onto ridge tops.

Cornices are best managed by:

  • Approaching corniced ridges cautiously.
  • Avoid travelling on or near overhanging cornices and limit time spent exposed to slopes below cornices, especially soon after wind events and during periods of warming temperatures.

Loose Dry:
  • Are usually small, but may gain significant mass on long steep slopes.
  • Are typically limited to steep terrain (40+ degrees).
  • Stabilize soon after a storm, usually within a few days.
Loose dry avalanches are best managed by:
  • Avoiding terrain traps and large steep slopes until the surface has stabilized.
  • On large steep slopes, occasionally move across the fall line to avoid being caught by your own sluffs from above.

Loose Wet:
  • Are more powerful than loose dry avalanches due to their higher density.
  • Are often limited to sunny slope aspects.
  • Are commonly confined to the warmest part of the day.
Loose wet avalanches are best managed by:
  • Avoiding start zones and avalanche paths when the snow becomes moist from daytime heating, from rain, or does not freeze overnight.

Wind Slabs:
  • Vary in size from small to medium.
  • Occur on steeper lee and cross-loaded portions of slopes (typically 35+ degrees).
  • Are often limited to specific terrain features such as lee ridge-tops.
  • Can often be recognized by the appearance of the snow surface, changes in surface snow hardness, hollow, drum-like sounds and/or shooting cracks.
  • Winds that vary in strength and direction can produce complex and unexpected wind slab patterns.
  • Stabilize fairly soon, usually in a few days to a week.
Wind slabs are best managed by:
  • Recognizing and avoiding areas where wind slabs have formed, until they have stabilized.

Storm Slabs:
  • Vary in size from small to very large.
  • May be soft slabs, fooling people into underestimating slab potential.
  • Tend to occur on moderately steep slopes (35+ degrees).
  • May occur in all terrain, but are larger and more frequent in the alpine.
  • Stabilize soon after a storm, usually within a few days.
Storm slabs are best managed by:
  • Conservative terrain choices during and after storms until the storm snow has stabilized.

Wet Slabs:
  • Involve wet layers in the snowpack, typically including deeper layers.
  • Tend to be large.
  • Occur when water forms or penetrates below the surface of the snowpack.
Wet slabs are best managed by: 
  • Avoiding start zones and avalanche paths when the snow becomes wet from daytime heating, rain, or lack of an overnight freeze.

Persistent Slabs:
  • Slide on buried persistent weak layers, which often form during clear periods and may involve deeper layers from multiple storms.
  • Vary in size from medium to very large and may cross terrain barriers to involve multiple slide paths.
  • May occur on very gentle terrain, even slopes of 20 degrees or less.
  • May be localized to specific elevations, aspects, or regions.
  • There are often no visible signs of persistent slab instability.
  • Lack of avalanche activity and lack of danger signs are NOTreliable indicators of stability.
  • Compression tests and Rutschblock tests may locate persistent weak layers.
  • Stabilize slowly, tending to persist for several weeks or longer.
  • Often have dormant periods, becoming active again when the weather changes.
  • Are prone to lingering pockets of instability that persist long after most areas have stabilized.
  • Tend to release above the trigger, making it difficult to escape.
  • Are often triggered remotely from a long distance away.
Persistent slabs are best managed by:
  • Very conservative terrain choices.
  • Allow extra time for persistent slabs to stabilize and use a very cautious approach to new terrain. Be especially cautious after storms or during warming periods.

Deep Persistent Slabs:
  • Slide on deeply buried persistent weak layers, which often form during clear periods or rain-on-snow events early in the season.
  • Involve thick, hard slabs, sometimes the entire snowpack.
  • Tend to be very large, commonly cross terrain barriers to involve multiple slide paths.
  • Tend to occur on larger slopes of moderate steepness, typically 30-40 degrees.
  • May be localized to specific elevations, aspects, or regions.
  • There are often no visible signs of persistent deep slab instability.
  • Lack of avalanche activity and lack of danger signs are NOT reliable indicators of stability.
  • Stabilize slowly if at all, persisting for months and often the entire season.
  • Dormant persistent deep slab instabilities often become active again when the weather changes, especially after storms or with warm spring weather.
  • Tend to release above the trigger, making it difficult to escape.
  • Are often triggered remotely from a long distance away.

Deep persistent slabs are best managed by:

  • Very conservative terrain choices and a very cautious approach to new terrain.
  • Be especially cautious after storms or during warming periods.

Cornices:
  • May trigger large slab avalanches on relatively stable slopes below.
  • Are often associated with recent wind loading and/or temperature changes.
  • Can be triggered from ridges, sometimes breaking surprisingly far back onto ridge tops.

Cornices are best managed by:

  • Approaching corniced ridges cautiously.
  • Avoid travelling on or near overhanging cornices and limit time spent exposed to slopes below cornices, especially soon after wind events and during periods of warming temperatures.