Over there, shovels aren’t just for safety…

Posted on: November 27th, 2012

“The Columbia Mountains are the first major barrier to incoming moisture across British Columbia’s Interior Plateau. The northern Columbia’s which include the Monashees and the Selkriks receive some of Canada’s highest annual snowfall amounts.


The ideal atmospheric circulation for heavy snow to the Northern Selkirks is a west to southwest flow. This way moisture off the Pacific Ocean can sneak in between the South Coast Mountains and the Northern Cascades and remain relatively uninterrupted until encountering the Columbia Mountain Range. A southwesterly flow arrives perpendicular to the range and results in maximum orographic lifting. Western Canada’s weather pattern is predominantly from the west. This moisture laden southwesterly flow is thus very common, making heavy snowfall a regular occurrence in the Northern Selkirks.

Located smack dab in the middle of the Northern Selkirks sits the Durrand Glacier, Selkirk Mountain Experience’s playground. From the Durrand Glacier, several glacial valleys fan out in a variety of orientations including the E-W Carnes Creek, the SE-NW Downie Creek and the NW-SE Woolsey Creek. This medley of drainage orientations promotes convergence for each of the major atmospheric flows which ultimately results in enhanced snowfall. Carnes Creek channels moisture during the predominant west to southwest flow and creates a snow-belt over the Durrand Glacier and its surrounding mountains. Downie Creek promotes enhanced snowfall to the glacier in a northwesterly atmospheric flow while many of the surrounding sub-ranges have become subsident and dry. Additionally, Woolsey Creek allows moisture to be channeled and converge at the southern edge of the glacier during a southerly flow..

The Durrand Glacier thus benefits from the large scale orographic enhancement of the Columbia’s as well as the smaller scale chanelling and convergence effects of the various surrounding drainages. Year after year all of these factors combine to give the Durrand Glacier some of the highest annual snowfall amounts while many surrounding ranges experience large seasonal variability. Deep snow is almost guaranteed on the Durrand Glacier!”

~By Matt MacDonald, Operational Meteorologist

“A short clip of Ruedi and Nicoline enjoying the first ski of the season, at the Durrand Glacier Chalet, on November 1, 2011. We have been very excited for this year’s ski season, as we truly believe it is going to be a great snow year. The snow at the Chalet is already measuring 153 cm of snow pack!”, said Ruedi.

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