Put the crystal ball away: Haines Pass is getting a weather station
'It gives people a lot better chance to pre-plan and that's a big deal as you're heading out,' says volunteer
Recreationalists heading to the Haines Road summit area for a weekend of backcountry skiing or snowmobiling this winter will have a better idea of what conditions to expect.
The Yukon Avalanche Association (YAA) and Haines Avalanche Centre in Alaska are installing a weather station just north of Three Guardsmen Mountain, in B.C.
Mike Smith, a volunteer with the YAA and a meteorologist by trade, says the station will help people prepare for weather and avalanche conditions.
"It gives people a lot better chance to pre-plan and that's a big deal as you're heading out."
The weather station will monitor temperature, wind speed and direction, and snow depth. Information will be available on the YAA website and to any other groups that want to share it.
Smith said partnering with the Haines Avalanche Centre made sense. He said they have been filling a "huge" gap in providing forecasting for the area, which is used by Yukoners and Alaskans alike.
"They are technically providing forecasts and information for the American side, but they are also very much big users of the BC-Yukon side of things as well," he said.
"So they've got a good finger on the pulse of usage there, of some of the snow pack and avalanche problems."
Erik Stevens, director of the Haines Avalanche Center, said partnering with the YAA was important because of the hurdles the centre would have faced trying to put a facility on the Canadian side of the border.
"This is a project that we've been trying to make happen in Haines for a long time," he said. "It's much better if you can check live weather data from home, before you go."
Volunteers from Alaska and the Yukon will help with the installation and maintenance of the station.
Smith said equipment for the station costs about $20,000. He said they received funding from the Yukon government's Community Development Fund for the project.
Smith noted Champagne and Aishihik First Nations, B.C. Parks and the B.C. Ministry of Lands were helpful in getting permission to install the station.
Smith said they are still waiting for a few pieces of equipment to arrive, but he hopes to see the station up and running by mid to late October.
With files from Meagan Deuling and Elyn Jones