Low snowpack means possibility for avalanches in Northern Rockies

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FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Though this season’s snowfall amounts haven’t quite been as high as in years past, conditions are brewing to possibly bring a large risk of avalanches to the Northern Rocky Mountains this season.

Forecaster Ilya Storm with Avalanche Canada says that conditions in the mountains near Tumbler Ridge, Chetwynd, and the Pine Pass are shaping up to be less than ideal for those wishing to explore the backcountry. Storm says that this season has so far brought a relatively low snow pack compared to previous years. In many cases, Storm says that the snow pack is at a record low level, in stark contrast to some of the snowfall amounts seen in Southern B.C. Despite this, Storm says that shallow snow packs have inherently weak structures. This compounded with the cold temperatures means that the snow pack has lost much of its moisture, giving it the consistency of sugar or sand.

Though there is some snow forecast to fall this week across Northern B.C., there won’t be any drastic amounts anticipated to fall. However, with the fresh snow falling on to a weak snow pack, Storm says that these conditions are very conducive to result in human-triggered avalanches. A human-triggered avalanche killed a man that was snowmobiling in the Rocky Mountains southeast of Valemount on December 30th.

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Storm says that while there is not an extreme risk, those conditions could change with the next large snowfall or extended warming trend.

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