West Kootenay avalanche warnings come early

The West Kootenay backcountry snow season conditions have already deteriorated, creating dangerous conditions.

The West Kootenay backcountry snow season is barely a few weeks old, and already conditions have deteriorated, creating dangerous conditions.

The risk of avalanche at the tree line and into the alpine in the areas around Trail and throughout the region has been rated as high for the next three days, according to the Canadian Avalanche Centre’s first report of the season.

The Revelstoke-based provincial forecast centre began issuing reports on Sunday and noted that heavy amounts of snowfall were expected to accumulate in the higher reaches of the backcountry over the next few days, creating the likelihood of widespread avalanche activity at all elevations.

“Storm slabs may be touchy, run far and be destructive. This is a good time to stay out of avalanche terrain,” the report stated.

Although no new avalanches have been reported, with conditions building in the backcountry the CAC is predicting that instability in the recently deposited storm snow slabs could potentially trigger any weakness in the lower parts of the young snow pack.

The snow pack depths are around 80 centimetres in the 1,600-metre altitudes, with about 130 cm. of snow pack in the 2,000 m. reaches. It is in those upper areas that slab blocks of snow and storm snow have created instabilities around lee features and ridgelines.

A Pineapple Express — a strong flow of atmospheric moisture and heavy rainfall from the waters near Hawaii — is on its way and the West Kootenay could see an abundance of new snow at higher elevations.

“The accumulations could surpass our current total snow pack,” the report forecast.