British Columbia

Warm weather brings special warning for increased avalanche risk in Western Canada

Avalanche Canada says the warm temperatures forecast for B.C. and Alberta this week will increase the chance of avalanche in the provinces' mountainous regions.

Recreational backcountry users urged to exercise caution

Experts say backcountry users should exercise caution as the avalanche risk has increased due to the warm weather. (Dave Gilson/CBC)

Avalanche Canada has issued a special avalanche warning because of a dramatic temperature increase across British Columbia and Alberta this week.

Avalanche forecaster Grant Helgeson says it's the first big warming event to hit the snowpack this year. 

"Any time the snowpack is hit with a big change, it tends to de-stabilize," Helgeson said In a release.

"[The warm temperatures] will weaken the snowpack on all aspects, increasing the possibility of large natural avalanches as well as making it easier for the weight of a person to trigger deeper, weak layers."

The warning is especially pertinent as spring break begins in B.C. and more people are expected to head out into the mountains. 

Currently, the avalanche danger is high at all altitudes in the following areas:

  • Banff, Yoho and Kootenay National Parks
  • Glacier National Park
  • Little Yoho

The avalanche danger is high from the treeline up in the following areas:

  • Cariboos
  • Kootenay Boundary
  • Lizard Range and Flathead
  • Northwest Coastal
  • Northwest Inland
  • North and South Columbia
  • South Coast
  • South Rockies
  • Vancouver Island

For a map of all affected areas, see the Avalanche Canada website.

Avalanche Canada recommends users keep track of regional avalanche forecasts, be equipped with essential rescue gear — like a transceiver, probe and shovel — and appropriate training, and stay away from avalanche slopes and other hazards.

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