Avalanche Canada Issues ‘Extreme’ Ratings and Recommends Avoiding All Avalanche Terrain

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Avalanche bulletin 12/1/21. Credit: Parks Canada

Avalanche Canada is advising backcountry enthusiasts avoid avalanche terrain as avalanche rating hit extreme in Banff, Yoho, and Kootenay national parks.

“AVOID ALL AVALANCHE TERRAIN and stay clear of overhead hazards. A natural avalanche cycle is expected in the region over the coming days. Conditions will become increasingly dangerous over the day Tuesday.”

– Avalanche Canada bulletin

The warnings come after a snowmobiler became North America’s first avalanche fatality of the season last weekend.

Parks Canada avalanche bulletin below:

Weather Forecast

Wednesday will be a crux day for avalanche conditions. 40-100 cm of snow is forecasted by end of day (more snow along the divide). This snow will be accompanied by very strong winds, high freezing levels and rain at lower elevations. Thursday will see convective flurries and clearing skies overnight. Freezing levels will drop to valley bottoms.

Snowpack Discussion

30-60 cm recent storm snow is reacting as a storm slab in alpine and tree-line locations. A crust (Nov 15) exists in the mid-pack in most areas below 2100 m. The Nov 5 crust/facet layer exists near the ground. Snowpack depths at tree-line average 80-110 cm. Lower elevation snow (below ~ 1600 m ) is rain- soaked and isothermal.

Avalanche Activity Discussion

Natural and explosive triggered  storm slabs  have been observed at tree-line and alpine locations in past 48 hours. Many upper elevation storm slabs are stepping down to the deep persistent layer making for large class three avalanches. At lower elevations (below 1700 m) debris is gouging into isothermal snow and again making for large avalanches.

Looks like the next couple of days should be resort days––be safe and sensible out there.

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