British Columbia

Backcountry adventurers warned of high avalanche risk in B.C. Interior

Weeks of storms have added heavy load of snow to slopes, Avalanche Canada says

CBC News

February 08, 2018

A special public avalanche warning has been issued for much of the B.C. Interior. (CBC)

Avalanche Canada has issued a public warning for a wide swath of B.C.'s Interior, warning that recent heavy snowfall has primed the slopes for slides over the Family Day long weekend.

Close to three weeks of constant storms have added a big load of snow to the mountains, triggering several large avalanches in recent days, according to the public safety body. That's expected to change on Friday, when the forecast calls for the storms to end.

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"The decrease in natural avalanches coupled with improved weather and the long weekend is a classic situation where skiers and snowmobilers venture into more aggressive terrain where they might trigger avalanches themselves or be struck from above," Avalanche Canada's senior forecaster, Mark Bender, said in a news release.

"People might be surprised by how large an avalanche can be triggered and how far it could run."

The warning applies to a number of mountain ranges: Lizard Range and Flathead, South Rockies, Purcells, Kootenay Boundary, South and North Columbia, Cariboos and North Rockies. It will remain in effect until the end of Monday.

A map shows the extent of Avalanche Canada's special public warning for the holiday weekend. (Avalanche Canada)

Just last week, a snowmobiler was killed in a slide between Blue River and Valemount, according to Avalanche Canada, and there have been numerous near misses in recent weeks.

"Travelling safely in the backcountry for the next few days will require expert-level skills to avoid hazardous areas. If you don't have the training to recognize and avoid avalanche terrain, please avoid the backcountry or hire a professional guide."

Full avalanche conditions are available at avalanche.ca.

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