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

Skaha Middle School
Arrest made in indecent acts near Penticton schools

A 32-year-old man was arrested and released on strict conditions, say police

Flooding has become a reality for many communities in the Okanagan Valley as the region faces more extreme weather storms, blamed on the impact of climate change. (File photo)
Okanagan high target for spring flooding

Higher snowpack and mild winter precipitation levels raise concerns for Canada’s insurance industry

Interior Health reported 79 new cases of COVID-19 and two new death in the region Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (Ben Hohenstatt/Juneau Empire)
79 new COVID-19 cases, two deaths reported in Interior Health

Both of Friday’s deaths were both recorded at long-term care homes

Sanders was dressed for the cold weather in Penticton Friday, as he made time to check out one of the city’s iconic landmarks. (Parkers Chrysler / Facebook)
U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders spotted in Penticton

Sanders seems to have developed a taste for local craft beer

Sunnybank in Oliver. (Google Maps)
Sunnybank long-term care in Oliver reports third COVID-19 death

The facility currently has an outbreak with 35 cases attached to it

Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021 is International Lego Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 24 to 30

Lego Day, Talk Like a Grizzled Prospector Day and Puzzle Day are all coming up this week

Economic Development and Official Languages Minister Melanie Joly responds to a question in the House of Commons Monday November 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Federal minister touts need for new B.C. economic development agency

Last December’s federal economic update promised a stimulus package of about $100 billion this year

FILE - In this Nov. 20, 2017, file photo, Larry King attends the 45th International Emmy Awards at the New York Hilton, in New York. Former CNN talk show host King has been hospitalized with COVID-19 for more than a week, the news channel reported Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021. CNN reported the 87-year-old King contracted the coronavirus and was undergoing treatment at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)
Larry King, broadcasting giant for half-century, dies at 87

King conducted an estimated 50,000 on-air interviews

BC Coroners Service is currently investigating a death at Canoe Cove Marina and Boatyard in North Saanich. (Black Press Media File)
Drowning death in North Saanich likely B.C.’s first in for 2021

Investigation into suspected drowning Monday night continues

Kimberly Proctor, 18, was murdered in 2010. Her family has spent many of the years since pushing for a law in her honour, that they say would help to prevent similar tragedies. (Courtesy of Jo-Anne Landolt)
Proposed law honouring murdered B.C. teen at a standstill, lacks government support

Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions has concerns with involuntary detainment portion of act

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a daily briefing in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
31 cases of COVID-19 variants detected in Canada: Health officials

Dr. Theresa Tam made announces 13 more variant COVID-19 cases in Canada

Administrative headquarters for the Regional District of Central Okanagan in Kelowna. (File photo)
Tempers fly over a pricey picnic shelter in the North Westside

Lack of detail on $121,000 shelter expenditure further incites self-govenance wishes

Big White Village on Dec. 16. (Big White photo)
11 more COVID-19 cases linked to Big White cluster

Interior Health provided an update on the cluster on Friday

Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. (Dave Eagles/Kamloops This Week file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak declared at Kamloops’ Royal Inland Hospital surgical unit

Despite 6 South being a surgical unit, RIH said surgeries are continuing at the hospital

Most Read