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Current Bulletin

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Read about the limitations of this avalanche bulletin here.

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: http://blogs.avalanche.ca/timing-is-everything-understanding-spring-danger-ratings/

If you are tripping in the island alps this spring please send your observations to us at forecaster@islandavalanchebulletin.com.

Many thanks to all the great sponsors who have kept this bulletin going. If you appreciate the bulletin then please go to our sponsors page and pass your appreciations on to these fine community members that make it possible. Many thanks also to the board of the Vancouver Island Avalanche Centre and to all who volunteer and of course to all of you who turn up at the Annual Party for the Bulletin and the V.I. Backcountry Fest. These fund raising events are a big part of what keeps your bulletin going!

If you are interested in becoming a sponsor of the bulletin please contact us at forecaster@islandavalanchebulletin.com.

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)
OutlookFridaySaturdaySunday
Alpine MODERATE CONSIDERABLE CONSIDERABLE
Treeline MODERATE CONSIDERABLE CONSIDERABLE
Below Treeline LOW MODERATE MODERATE

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

Monday April 14, 2014.

April 14, 2014 at 07:42PM
This Bulletin Valid Until:  Thursday, April 17, 6pm.
DANGER RATINGS (Make sure you understand the danger level meanings)
OutlookTuesdayWednesdayThursday
Alpine LOW LOW MODERATE
Treeline LOW LOW MODERATE
Below Treeline LOW LOW LOW

Confidence: Good.

Main Concerns: (Avalanche problems)

Wind Slab - Significant precipitation Wednesday/Thursday coming as snow to the alpine (and perhaps as low as tree line depending on freezing levels), will be accompanied by winds of up to 50kph making for fresh wind slabs from East through North the West aspects and in cross loaded features. These slabs may be triggerable by human loads and could produce avalanches from small to perhaps large enough to bury, injure or kill a person.

Wet Loose Avalanches  - Precipitation Wednesday/Thursday 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 system Wednesday/Thursday and be prepared for wind slab in the alpine and as low as tree line. Enter the wind zone with caution and test small features to see if the slab is reacting to human loads. Greater precipitation amounts are forecast for the west coast with less on the east and north island.

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 saw no precipitation (except for a trace on the north island) over the last two days. Temperatures have been very warm with freezing levels varying from near sea level overnights to way over the tops of the island mountains by day. Tree line temperatures reached as high as twelve degrees. Winds were light and variable in direction.

Avalanche Summary :

Some small, loose wet avalanches have been observed. 

Snowpack  Summary:

The island snowpack is generally dense, moist and well settled with a firm, supportable crust forming on the surface with overnight freezes. Various historical crusts exist throughout the snowpack. Shears do exist in the snowpack, all the way down to our old February 10th layer but they are resistant and unlikely to to be a failure plane until we get very hot spring melt.

Weather Forecast:

Tuesday: Very light precipitation, winds up to moderate SW, freezing level around 1300m.

Wednesday/Thursday: Increasing precipitation starting around mid day (timing uncertain) to deliver from 20mm to as much as 50mm or more to some areas (most on the west coast). Freezing levels around 1700m will mean snow to possibly as low as tree line. Winds moderate SE.

 

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.