B.C. avalanche warning triggers reminder of deaths on the rise
An avalanche warning has been issued for the Easter long weekend
The number of avalanche deaths is up in B.C. and Canada this year despite fairly stable terrain, says Avalanche Canada.
An avalanche warning has been issued for those heading into the back country over the Easter Weekend. Deeply buried weak layers of snow have recently been producing large slides, both human-triggered and naturally.
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Karl Klassen of Avalanche Canada says it's been a fairly typical winter on mountains throughout B.C.
"From a snowpack perspective, from an avalanche occurrence perspective, it has been nothing unusual," Klassen said. "As a matter of fact it's probably been one of the better years in a lot of parts of the province."
But the favourable conditions haven't prevented avalanche deaths.
"If you look at the fatality count, it's not been a good year at all," he said.
"We're above the 10-year average with 14 fatalities in Canada and 13 in B.C. so far, and the winter's no over yet," he said.
Avalanche Canada says there's particular concern this long weekend for people headed out to back country in B.C.'s north and eastern mountain ranges.
"It will feel a lot like spring, but the first time a winter snow pack gets a lot of sun and warming like this, it often produces avalanches and that's the concern we have right now," he said.
Klassen says coastal mountains are not facing the same risk, but on Vancouver Island rain and warming temperatures could also cause natural avalanches.
He emphasizes that anyone heading out into the backcountry needs avalanche safety equipment and training.