Urs Gruber, Pascal Haegeli, Dave McClung, Evan Manners
Annals of Glaciology, 38, 15-20
Publication year: 2004


Daily weather measurements, snow stability assessments and recorded weak layers of 23 stations covering an observation area of approximately 40 000 km in western Canada were analyzed. The study area includes three major mountain ranges with different snow climates. All stations included assess the stability of the snow cover. However, the focus of the avalanche safety program of the different types of operation (heli-ski operation, ski resorts and parks) varies significantly. The three stations in the Coast Mountains show the highest snow stability, followed by the South Columbia Mountains and then the North Columbia and Rocky Mountains. The weather data were analyzed to try to explain some of these differences. Intensive snowfall at relatively high temperatures proved to be important for the higher snow stability over the season in the Coast Mountains. The weak-layer data were used to complement the snow stability assessments. Most persistent weak layers were reported in the Columbia Mountains, followed by the three stations in the Coast Mountains and trailed by the Rocky Mountains. Although some weather observations indicate climatic reasons for the smaller number of weak layers in the Rocky Mountains, it cannot be excluded that these differences are also related to the different type of operations.