Avalanches seen all over

Avalanche Canada said there were at least 10 separate human-triggered avalanches across the province this past weekend. 

Senior Avalanche Forecaster James Floyer says they're noticing a trend.

“It was certainly a very busy time in the mountains and it was a holiday on the Monday,” he said. “Fairly immutable weather there and in some areas nice new snow to ride and play in.”

Part of the trend can be an increase in usage of the mountains, but that is not the full story.

“Part of it may be attributed to a very busy weekend, people are able to move into alpine areas and significant terrain because travel conditions are good right now,” he said. “And part of it is due to an underlying snowpack problem.”

Avalanches were reported across the province near Mount Seymour, Fernie, and in Glacier National Park.

Floyer said they're seeing two separate problems – in the interior and coastal regions. 

“The interior issue has been with us for a little while and it is gradually improving at a slow rate,” he said. 

There are two to three weak layers in the snow which have been around for up to four weeks.

Places that are most likely to be triggered are treeline areas and steep, compact terrain.

“The alpine and treeline areas certainly continue to be reasonably dangerous,” he said. 

On the coast, Floyer said there is a similar situation.

“We have a little bit more of a growing problem. There is a crust that is currently buried in the south coast mountains and in the north shore mountains near Vancouver, “ he said. "We have had prolonged cold temperatures, which is unusual for that area and it is not well bonded to the crust."

As snow builds on the crust, the avalanche hazard increases. 

“The south coast region has recently reached a bit of a tipping point, and we have an ongoing incident from yesterday that we believe is a result of those conditions,” said Floyer. 

A hiker is missing from the backcountry near Mount Seymour after two people were hit by an avalanche on Monday morning. 

Floyer says the hot spots right now across the province are the south coast and southeast regions of the province. 

“Most of the avalanches were fairly small, so a Size 1 or 1.5,” he said, 

But the avalanche reported close to Mount Seymour is believed to be fairly sizeable, up in the 2.5 category. 

Heading into this weekend, a storm is expected on Friday bringing another 15 centimetres of snow.

“It probably won’t be quite sufficient to create a natural avalanche cycle, so likely in the considerable avalanche hazard level,” said Floyer.

Anyone venturing into the backcountry is reminded to check conditions at this link

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