British Columbia

High avalanche risk forecast for southern B.C. mountains as heavy snow falls

The heavy snow isn't just pummelling highways and roads in southern B.C., it's also increased the avalanche risk in several of the province's mountain areas. 

Give the snowpack a few days to stabilize, advises Avalanche Canada

A high danger rating means there are very dangerous conditions, with high likelihood of human-triggered slides as well as natural avalanches. (CBC)

The heavy snow isn't just pummelling highways and roads in southern B.C., it's also increased the avalanche risk in several of the province's mountain areas. 

Avalanche Canada is warning the heavy snowfall that hit parts of southern B.C. Thursday may trigger a natural avalanche cycle in the South Coast regions and Sea-to-Sky corridor.

"Best to avoid avalanche terrain on Friday and give the snowpack time to stabilize," the avalanche forecasting organization wrote.

The South Coast region, which includes the North Shore mountains, has a high danger rating above the treeline and a considerable danger rating below the treeline. 

A high danger rating means there are very dangerous conditions, with high likelihood of human-triggered slides as well as natural avalanches. 

Avalanche Canada publishes a daily avalanche bulletin online that rates the danger in specific regions based on likelihood and expected size. (Avalanche Canada)

The Sea-to-Sky area, which is expected to get between 20 and 40 centimetres of snow, has a high-to-considerable danger rating, as does the South Coast inland area. 

The significant snowfall accumulates on top of a weaker layer underneath, which can collapse or slide with the heavy load, triggering an avalanche. High wind can also create slabs, which increase the avalanche risk. 

Heavy snowfall hit the the province late Thursday afternoon and is expected to continue overnight and into the weekend as a frontal system stalls over the region, according to Environment Canada. 

Snowfall and winter storm warnings are in effect for much of the southern Interior and coastal regions, with up to 75 centimetres of snow expected in areas like the Fraser Canyon. 

Anyone venturing into the backcountry should carry essential avalanche gear like a transceiver, probe and shovel, according to Avalanche Canada, but travel in high risk areas is discouraged regardless of safety equipment. 

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