equinoctal weather

The aftermath of the 4 March 1910 avalanches at snow shed 14 in Rogers Pass, British Columbia. Revelstoke Museum and Archives, Photograph #268

It is curious that the days this week are the same length as they are at the end of September which, unless there was a Labour Day frost – once typical now rare, is still full of the heat of summer.  In fact September is our summer.  

On the eastern slopes of the Rockies, our highest snowfalls are in March and April, and although there are avalanches in the mountains all winter, there is a tide of them in the spring.  It has to do with warm Pacific storms on the coast which continue east precipitating heavy warm snow onto cold mountains.  The snow pack is made top-heavy and it topples.  

The CPR line was put through Roger's Pass in 1884, and remained open despite avalanches by using a system of timber snowsheds and small tunnels.  In 1910 there was a terrible avalanche disaster in the mountains when, on a very warm March 4th, a first avalanche buried the tracks and then as the work crews were digging it out a second avalanche from the opposite slope hit them, killing 62 men.  It was after this that the 5-mile long Connaught Tunnel was built, opening in 1916.  The surface rail line on that particular section was removed.

However, when the Trans-Canada Highway was put through Roger's Pass in the early 1960s, it generally followed the original CPR line, taking it through the avalanche area.  The highway is often closed; it was last week.

Can't plan anything these days, but clearly one never could.