Whitehorse Daily Star

Snowslide forecast: cold but stable conditions

Avalanche Canada is reporting stable weather patterns for this weekend in its first detailed avalanche forecast of the winter season.

By Gabrielle Plonka on January 10, 2020

Avalanche Canada is reporting stable weather patterns for this weekend in its first detailed avalanche forecast of the winter season.

There have been no reports of avalanche activity in the past few days, the report says.

Confidence in the report is “high” because of the stable weather patterns.

This is the first week of forecasting from Avalanche Canada’s Yukon field team of this year. Yukoners can expect avalanche forecast updates three times weekly into the spring, focusing on White Pass and Wheaton Valley.

Today, both alpine and treeline conditions are rated “low” for generally safe avalanche conditions. On Saturday, treeline conditions are rated “low” and alpine conditions are rated “moderate,”

Moderate conditions indicate heightened avalanche conditions on specific terrain features. While natural avalanches are unlikely, human-triggered avalanches are possible.

Yukoners are advised to watch for areas of hard wind slab on northeastern alpine slopes this weekend.

The report expects 25 cm of soft snowpack, with snow depths on the White Pass averaging around 150 cm.

“It’s reasonable to expect a thin snowpack with sugary facets in the Wheaton Valley, although we don’t yet have any observations to confirm this,” it says.

Avalanche reporting is returning to full service in the Yukon this year for the first time since 2016, thanks to federal grants funnelling into the territory through Avalanche Canada.

In the last four years, budget constraints meant the Yukon’s public avalanche advisory relied on field observations and reports from local recreational users.

This year, the field team will spend several days each week in the White Pass evaluating conditions and collecting the data required to produce regular forecasts.

“We are very happy to once again provide the essential safety service of a regular forecast to backcountry users in Yukon,” Karl Klassen, Avalanche Canada’s warning service manager, said late last month.

On Dec. 30, two men died in an avalanche at the Haines Summit in B.C.

The BC Coroners Service said the men, who were in their early 20s, were snowboarding in the area when the avalanche hit that afternoon.

Avalanche Canada had predicted elevated avalanche danger due to snow and strong winds in the White Pass area and in many areas of B.C. that weekend, thanks to a series of storms.

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