Special avalanche warning issued for mountain parks

Parks Canada has issued a special avalanche warning for the mountain parks in Alberta and eastern B.C. this weekend. Due to recent storms, warm weather and an unstable snowpack, backcountry users are urged to stay out of avalanche terrain.

High risk of snow slides in Alberta, B.C. Rockies this weekend

Parks Canada says the state of the snow pack and the current warm weather are a potentially dangerous combination. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Parks Canada and Alberta Parks have issued a special avalanche warning for the mountain areas in the west of the province and in eastern British Columbia.

There is also an avalanche warning in place for much of the rest of southern B.C.

Omar McDadi, a spokesman for Parks Canada, says the state of the snowpack and the current warm weather are a potentially dangerous combination.  

"In our part of the region, we have a deep, persistent weak snow layer at the base of the snowpack which has recently been overloaded by snow and wind causing a high avalanche danger in many, many places," said McDadi.

He said inexperienced people should stay out of the backcountry or go with a professional guide.

"Experienced recreationalists are urged to travel on simple terrain and to stay out of the backcountry and avalanche terrain when temperatures are the warmest."

The weekend forecast calls for daytime temperatures above freezing in many parts of the mountain parks.

McDadi says there are still many places for cross-country skiing and in-bounds skiing and riding that are safe.

The warning is expected to last until Monday.

Avalanche forecasters to share information

Jonathan Neufeld of Tecterra says a new online tool developed by his company will help avalanche forecasters better assess risk. (CBC)

Meanwhile, avalanche forecasters have a new tool at their disposal. 

The Canadian Avalanche Association and Calgary firm Tecterra have developed Info Ex — an online tool that lets forecasters share their snow, weather and avalanche observations.

Jonathan Neufeld of Tecterra says the tool will let avalanche professionals make decisions about risk management.

"So if they're deciding to close the roads, open the roads, they'll have better tools and a better ability to understand the information contributed by subscribers and it helps them interpret and manage that information for making decisions, " he said.

Major Canadian avalanches: