Snow in forecast raises avalanche risk for West Kootenay

A snowfall warning has been issued by Environment Canada for Trail and the West Kootenay for Monday, January 30, 2012

More snow is on the way for Trail while the risk of a backcountry avalanche continues to rise.

A snowfall warning has been issued by Environment Canada for Trail and the West Kootenay for Monday, with amounts close to five centimetres expected to fall overnight.

However, the snow is expected to change to rain in the afternoon as the Pacific frontal system spreads snow to many parts of the southeastern interior. Heading up a little higher, the Canadian Avalanche Centre has the avalanche danger at in the West Kootenay backcountry alpine on Monday and Tuesday rated as considerable. Up to 15 cm. of snow will descend on the mountainous regions Monday, decreasing by Tuesday.

The backcountry snow pack is measuring at almost 150 per cent of normal, according to the province. Cold weather followed by a recent warming trend elevated the avalanche hazard, and wind has blown snow onto avalanche paths, further increasing the load.

Wind slab avalanches to Size 1.5 were observed in the West Kootenay over the last 24 hours.

A layer of concern deeper in the snow pack is a surface layer from mid-December. This layer has become a concern in the Bonnington Range and should still be on the radar of backcountry travelers as the last round of deep activity was only a week ago, the CAC warned.

“This is a lingering layer of concern that reflects low probability but high consequence,” the report noted.

Snowpack depths in the region are around 240 cm.