Kootenay Boundary Special Message - Feb 15
The mountains are in a period of change. Avalanche hazard has increased and we need to be in tune with the changes so as to make appropriate travel decisions. The new snow load has grown in small increments and wind loading has been sporadic, which makes it hard to predict what's happening locally. Choosing conservative terrain is critical for the next few days.
The January 30 and February 9 surface hoar layers are the main story in the snowpack at this time.
20-30 cm of storm snow overlies the February 9 surface hoar, with the January 30 layer being 5-10 cm deeper. The upper snowpack has consolidated over these layers due to the warm temperatures, creating extensive soft slabs. In stability tests the upper layer is failing as an easy, sudden planar shear and the lower layer fails easy to moderate, also sudden planar.
Below these 2 prominent instabilities, the midpack is well settled. The older surface hoar layers from January 25 and December 29th are still visible and yield inconsistent results in stability tests.