Avalanche Canada is forecasting considerable to high avalanche risk for the North and South Columbia mountains following the storm on Jan. 12 and 13. (File photo)

Avalanche Canada is forecasting considerable to high avalanche risk for the North and South Columbia mountains following the storm on Jan. 12 and 13. (File photo)

Storm leaves avalanche danger high in B.C. Southern Interior

Snow of up to 60 cm and high winds created hazardous conditions

Backcountry users were being advised to avoid steep, avalanche-prone terrain.

As of Wednesday, Jan 13, Avalanche Canada was forecasting a high risk of avalanche at and above the treeline in the North and South Columbia mountains.

The Revelstoke-based forecaster’s online report on mountain conditions stated snow and strong wind on Tuesday, Jan. 12, and into Wednesday morning would form fresh wind slabs, creating the risk of an avalanche. Wind slabs are formed out of drifted snow on the leeward side of steep slopes and can easily dislodge, creating an avalanche.

The high avalanche danger applied to alpine and treeline elevations, but below the treeline the avalanche danger remains considerable.

Along with the slabs created by the storm, Avalanche Canada’s forecast stated there were weak layers in the snowpack buried 50 to 80 centimetres, and 90 to 15 centimetres under the snow.

Read More: ‘Vigorous’ storm heading for Revelstoke area

Read More: P.I. wanted in continued search for missing Caitlin Potts

Avalanche forecaster Colin Garritty said with conditions as they are, backcountry users should be steering clear of avalanche terrain and sticking to forested and less steep slopes. He added that users should be aware of overhead hazards and the activities of others on the mountain.

Everyone in each group should carry safety essentials like shovels, probes and transceivers necessary for rescuing someone buried by an avalanche.

Garritty said human-triggered avalanches will remain likely in the coming days and conditions were such that they could be triggered naturally as well. Backcountry users should be on the lookout for signs of instability like cracking snow and small slides on low angle slopes.

Read More: Supply management key to survival of B.C. dairy industry, says Okanagan farmer

Read More: Column: White Lake provides welcome relief from other present day realities

Garritty said the snowfall accompanying Tuesday night’s storm took Avalanche Canada’s forecasters by surprise; while high winds were foreseen, heavy snowfall averaging 30 to 40 cm, but totalling 60 cm in some areas, was not.

Avalanche Canada had been receiving reports of avalanches in the area even before the storm on Jan. 12 and 13.

A group of backcountry skiers in an area called the gorge near the eastern end of Shuswap Lake reported setting off a “small but scary” avalanche as they were following a skin track on Jan. 12. The first avalanche was followed by a larger one, which ran downhill away from them for hundreds of metres through the trees. The report, sent to Avalanche Canada, also noted evidence of avalanches which came down before the group of four skiers arrived. The same group had skied the same slopes the day before and found conditions stable and good for skiing.



jim.elliot@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Severe weather

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The students were told to think about a problem in their lives and what the solution to that problem could be. (Ashly Griffin)
Kelowna teacher brings creative learning to school during difficult time

Teacher Ashly Griffin wanted to take students’ mind off the pandemic

Esa Carriere, 23, was the victim of a 2018 Canada Day homicide. (File)
Youth sentenced in Kelowna Canada Day killing

Young woman pleaded guilty to lesser assault charge, sentenced to 15-month intensive support and supervision program

A rendering of UBC’s planned downtown Kelowna campus. (Contributed)
Kelowna’s new downtown campus to help alleviate UBCO’s space crunch

The sizable development is anticipated to be completed by the fall 2024 semester

Kelowna International Airport. (Contributed)
Contactless parking payment available at YLW

Kelowna International Airport parking now compatible with the PayByPhone application

Good Samaritan Mountainview Village located at 1540 KLO Road in Kelowna. (Good Samaritan Society)
Outbreak at Kelowna long term care home declared over

Penticton, Kelowna long term care home outbreaks declared over Jan. 20

The BC SPCA is adapting its fundraising after cancelling events due to COVID-19 restrictions. (Twila Amato - Black Press Media)
BC SPCA gets creative with fundraising as pandemic continues

The non-profit’s in-person fundraising events all had to be cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions

Vancouver Canucks’ Travis Hamonic grabs Montreal Canadiens’ Josh Anderson by the face during first period NHL action in Vancouver, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horvat scores winner as Canucks dump Habs 6-5 in shootout thriller

Vancouver and Montreal clash again Thursday night

Vernon Fire Rescue Services responded to a single-vehicle rollover Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, after a vehicle came into contact with a pedestrian light pole at Kalamalka Lake Road and 14th Avenue. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
Minor injuries in rollover after vehicle hits Vernon crosswalk pole

The vehicle flipped onto its side, closing Kalamalka Lake Road

Penticton city council heard from Dhorea Ramanula, of Paid Employment for People with Lived Experiences Tuesday, Jan. 19. Ramanula’s organization has operated public washrooms in Kelowna staffed by community support workers since April, she says Penticton could benefit from a similar facility. (Michael Rodriguez - Kelowna Capital News)
Penticton interested in new public washroom concept to combat vandalism

Public washrooms with on-site support staff have been operating in Kelowna since April

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Canada Post had remove a lot of letter boxes around Penticton after they were vandalized. This letter box at the United Church on Main St. remains unscathed. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Street mailbox vandals strike Penticton drop boxes

Canada Post had to remove a bunch of the vandalized units

A petition to spare the Mount Rose Swanson area from logging later this year has eclipsed 21,000 signatures as of Jan. 20, 2021. (Rose Swanson Mountain/Facebook)
Controversial logging will cut 4% of ‘sensitive’ Armstrong forest area: Ministry

A petition to spare the Rose Swanson area from logging has eclipsed 21,000 signatures

Vernon firefighters douse a fire inside a cardboard bin behind the Shops at Polson off Highway 6 Wednesday, Jan. 20. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
PHOTOS: Dumpster fire behind Vernon shopping mall

Vernon Fire Rescue Services respond doused recycling bin fire backing onto Polson Park

Most Read