Avalanche Concerns – First Significant Warming of the Season

Avalanche Canada

Revelstoke – Avalanche Canada has taken to social media about the forecast. That could be a problem.

We’re about to see the first significant warming of the season- which means changes are afoot for the snowpack.

Every year around this time we start to think about the impacts of warming on the snowpack. Historically, March is the deadliest month for avalanche fatalities, likely due to a combination of snowpack and human factors. The first big warm up can shake things up, especially when we have cold snowpacks with persistent weak layers like the ones currently in play throughout western Canada. In addition to tricky avalanche conditions, longer and warmer days can lead to “blue sky syndrome” where we potentially underestimate risk and let our guards down.

The incoming weather has caught the attention of the AvCan forecasting team. As the week progresses we will see the first significant warm up of the season, in some regions accompanied with moderate to heavy precipitation. The timing, severity, and spatial extent are not yet fully certain, but from a few days out it seems like the greatest warming will be in southeastern BC and southern Alberta. That said, warming will be a concern in all regions – especially those with lingering persistent weak layers.

In the coming days we will closely examine weather forecasts, and any specific concerns will be reflected in our daily avalanche forecasts. But there are some overarching themes to think about this time of year regardless of your region or which day you are considering travelling into the backcountry.

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