British Columbia

Warm, wet weather forecast brings heightened risk for B.C. avalanches

An active pattern of heavy rain and milder temperatures is expected to push into the South Coast on Tuesday, bringing a heightened risk for flooding and avalanches

‘As soon as we have winter conditions we need to be prepared for avalanche safety,’ North Shore Rescue

This semi truck was caught in an avalanche that swept over the Trans-Canada Highway near Field, B.C., last February. (Parks Canada)

An active pattern of heavy rain and milder temperatures is expected to push into the South Coast on Tuesday, bringing with it a heightened risk for flooding and avalanches.

"This wet and warm weather will also lead to unstable snow packs and an elevated risk of avalanches and landslides," said CBC meteorologist Johanna Wagstaffe.

"Anytime we have a big snow dump like we just did this weekend followed by an atmospheric river — that is a recipe for avalanche risk," she said.

Steady rain is forecast to begin Tuesday morning, bringing a possible 30-40 millimetres.

Environment Canada said around 25 millimetres of rain fell in downtown Vancouver on Sunday within a three-hour span.

Higher elevations near Whistler saw up to 30 centimetres of snow over the weekend. The mountain resort and other hills throughout the province enjoyed a head start to the season due to an earlier than usual snowfall.

Early avalanche risk

Mike Danks with North Shore Rescue said while it may seem early in the season for avalanches — once snow accumulates — the risk is there.

"We have 150 centimetres of snow at the 1300 metre level  — as soon as we have winter conditions we need to be prepared for avalanche safety."

Danks cautioned anyone heading into the back country to have proper safety gear and avalanche training. He also says it's important to leave a trip plan with someone else before even considering heading into unsettled terrain.

"Unfortunately there will be times when the avalanche danger is at a level where we cannot send rescuers into the field, people need to understand that," he said. "If the avalanche risk high or extreme you probably shouldn't be out there."

Snowfall warning

Environment Canada issued a snowfall warning for areas in the southern B.C. Interior on Monday morning. Unsettled conditions are expected to bring 20 centimetres of snow from Paulson Summit to Kootenay Pass.

Warmer air is expected to arrive Wednesday and Thursday bringing highs in the mid-teens for Metro Vancouver.

Wagstaffe said the wet weather pattern is likely to continue into next week, and with a La Nina system expected this year, a colder and wetter winter is expected.

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