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Current Bulletin

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Read about the limitations of this avalanche bulletin here.

Test of new system.

November 2, 2014 at 01:53PM
Bulletin Issued: Test of new system. This is not a valid bulletin.        
Valid Until:              
DANGER RATINGS (Make sure you understand the danger level meanings)        
Elevation Zone Tuesday Wednesday Thursday        
Treeline LOW MODERATE HIGH        
Confidence: Fair A limited amount of field data was available for this forecast.  
Avalanche Problems Contribution Elevation Zone Aspect(s) Likelihood of Triggering Sz. Potential  
Storm Slab 50% All All Likely to Very Likely 1 to 2.5  
Persistent Slab 30% All N to NW Possible 2  
Persistent Deep Slab 10% All S to SE Unlikely 2 to 2.5  
Persistent Deep Slab 10% All S to SE Unlikely 3.5  
Recent Avalanche Activity            
Character and size   Genral Location   Aspects      
Slab avalanches up to size 2 Mount Cain Backcountry N-NW      
Slab avalanches less than size 1 In bounds Mt. Washington N-NW      
Terrain / Travel Advice            
Watch for common trigger zones such as convexities, shallow weak areas and wind affected snow  
Watch for common trigger zones such as convexities, shallow weak areas and wind affected snow  
Be cautious of large run out zones and be aware of  start zones high above you  
Space for freehand  
Weather Forecast              
  Preiciptaion Winds Freezing levels        
Space for freehand  
Short explanation of snowpack  
Forecasters notes              
Hazard is going to rise as our next weather system hits. Timing of this is uncertain so keep an eye on it and be prepared to change plans. Persistent slabs are the most difficult avalanche problem to predict. While the likelyhood of trigger is very low, the size of such an avalnache and the resulting consequences would be terrible. Keep this in mind when considering riding larger features. The Moderate avalanche danger rating allows for "Large avalanches in isolated areas".  
Forecaster: Cliff Umpleby            
Observations or Comments? We want to hear them.          

Sunday April 20, 2014

April 20, 2014 at 03:52PM

Vancouver Island Avalanche Bulletin - End of the 2014 Season

This week end marks the end of the forecasting season for the V.I. Avalanche Bulletin. We will not issue further bulletins this spring unless a heightened hazard compels us to issue an up date or warning. If you are planning spring trips do check back here to see if we have issued any updates or warnings and as always plan your trips carefully.

Below is some general advice for traveling in avalanche terrain at this time of year:

Spring avalanche danger patterns are generally quite predictable in that they relate largely to day time warming from rise in temperature and direct sun light. Choosing which aspect to be on when is the way to manage this hazard. Danger is generally lower early in the day when temperatures are cool, the sun is not yet affecting slopes, and a strong supportive melt-freeze crust exists. Danger increases as temperatures rise, solar radiation intensifies, and surface snow becomes wet or slushy. If wet snow does not freeze overnight or if it's raining, hazard can be up at any time of day.

Watch for snow becoming wet and slushy to more than about 5cm depth, pinwheeling, snowballing and small loose, wet snow point releases out of steep terrain and at rock outcrops. When you see these signs be prepared to change your planned route to a shadier aspect which has not yet melted or if that is not available get out of avalanche terrain. Remember that wet snow avalanches can occur on lower angled slopes of 25 degrees or less.

Always keep an eye on what is above you. Remember that though it may be cool lower down in the shade where you are, sun could be affecting start zones above you.

While most loose wet avalanches tend to be small in size they are heavy and can be "pushy". As such, even small wet avalanches can cause significant harm especially when combined with terrain traps such as trees, stumps, rocks and cliffs.

Not all wet snow avalanches are small. With very warm temperatures and strong solar radiation or heavy warm rain, the snow pack could become saturated to great enough depth to cause failure of old weaknesses deeper in the snowpack making for much larger avalanches. In such extreme weather events staying out of avalanche terrain makes sense.

While getting out early is generally the rule of thumb it is worth considering that the snow tends to be hard first thing in the day and that exposure on steep slopes could result in nasty falls followed by sliding on hard snow which could be especially dangerous if there are consequences below. Remember that terrain traps such as cliffs and trees are a danger not only in avalanches!

There is still snow in the forecast meaning that more winter like avalanche problems such as wind slab and storm slab remain possibilities, typically at the higher elevations. When it does snow look for amounts of 20 to 30cm or more and be aware that this snow may not bond well initially to underlying crusts. Also watch for moderate and stronger winds which can transport new snow and create slabs of greater depth in the lees and in cross loaded features.

The Canadian Avalanche Centre's Forecaster Blog has some more good general advice for travel at this time of year. You can read the blog here:

If you are tripping in the island alps this spring please send your observations to us at

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Forecaster: Jan Neuspiel

Thursday April 17, 2014.

April 17, 2014 at 02:46PM
This Bulletin Valid Until:  Sunday, April 20, 6pm.
DANGER RATINGS (Make sure you understand the danger level meanings)

Confidence: Fair. Field information for this forecast is very limited. Timing and intensity of systems is uncertain. Models differ widely on precipitation amounts for Sunday.

Main Concerns: (Avalanche problems)

Wind Slab - Up to 15mm of precipitation coming as snow to tree line and above will combine with moderate and strong winds respectively on late Thursday and on Saturday to create wind slab at tree line and above from west through north to east and south east aspects and in cross loaded features. These slabs will be triggerable by humans and could produce avalanche from small (sz 1) to almost large enough to bury injure or kill a person (sz 1.5). The forecast is uncertain for Sunday but chances are good that new and deeper slabs could be formed then making for renewed touchiness of these slabs and possibly avalanche large enough to bury injure or kill a person (sz 2).

Storm Slab - If higher precipitation values are realized for Sunday, storm slab will form on that day at tree line and above on all aspects. This could be triggerable by human loads and could produce avalanche from small (sz 1) to large enough to bury injure or kill a person (sz 2).

Wet Loose Avalanches  - Precipitation over the week end will come as rain to below tree line elevations making for loose wet avalanches. These will be small in size and possible on all aspects.

Travel/Terrain Advice:

Watch precipitation amounts and strength of winds from our systems Thursday evening, Saturday and Sunday and be prepared for wind slab and storm slab in the alpine and at tree line. Enter the wind zone with caution and test small features to see if the slab is reacting to human loads.

Remember that though small, loose wet avalanches can be heavy and "pushy" and can do harm when combined with terrain traps such as trees and cliffs.

Current Weather:

The Island Alps generally received between about 15 and 25mm of water over the last few days. The exception to this was the west coast where stations recorded more than double that. Freezing levels varied from less than 1000m to about 2000m. Precipitation came as rain to all but the higher altitudes where there was some snow. The North island remained cooler with Mount Cain getting about 17cm of snow. Winds were up to moderate from the west round to the south east.

Avalanche Summary :

Some small, loose wet avalanches have been observed. 

Snowpack  Summary:

The island snowpack is generally dense, moist and well settled. It has been rain soaked to at least tree line in many places and has some rain soaked new snow on it in others (north island).

Weather Forecast:

Thursday Evening: - Precipitation 5 to 15mm. Freezing level 1500 dropping to 1300m. Winds moderate WNW.

Friday: A mix of sun and cloud with a chance of a trace of precipitation. Freezing level 1400m. Winds easing from moderate overnight Thursday/Friday to light Friday.

Saturday - Precipitation 5 to 15mm. Freezing level 1400m. Winds moderate to strong SE to SW.

Sunday - Significant uncertainty about Sunday's forecast.  Moderate to heavy precipitation is possible with moderate to strong winds from the SE to SW and freezing levels around 1300m.

Forecaster: Jan Neuspiel
Observations or comments? We want to hear them

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Important Notice

This bulletin covers the mountainous region of Vancouver Island from the Mt. Cain Ski Area in the North to the Beaufort range to the South including the mountains of Strathcona Provincial Park.

This is a regional forecast and significant variation may exist within the forecast area. The information and danger ratings are intended as a trip planning aid for recreational, backcountry users of avalanche terrain; they are not meant to be used as the sole factor in determining the avalanche danger presented by a specific slope.

Always include local weather, snowpack and avalanche observations in your decision to travel in avalanche terrain. Observations and experience may lead to different conclusions from what is reported or recommended. See disclaimer for further details. The technical data used to produce these bulletins is obtained from a variety of sources, including local ski areas and remote weather resources.