Special avalanche warning issued for B.C., Alberta

Another avalanche warning

After a massive winter storm delivered the goods to Whistler and B.C., danger in the backcountry is rising.

On Feb. 29, Avalanche Canada, in partnership with Parks Canada, Kananaskis Country, and the Province of BC, issued a Special Public Avalanche Warning for backcountry users across most of B.C.’s and Alberta’s forecast regions.

The warning is in effect immediately, and will apply through the end of March 4.

New snow from recent storms sits on prominent weak layers established in early February, Avalanche Canada said in a release. Now the storm has abated, the natural avalanche activity has slowed, but human-triggered avalanches remain likely.

“We’ve been tracking these weak layers closely over this past month,” said Avalanche Canada forecaster Tyson Rettie, in the release. “While their structure has different forms across different regions, the result is the same—highly problematic layers that remain reactive to human triggering.

“This has been the biggest storm of the season, and we know backcountry users are eager to enjoy the snow. But it’s vital to not underestimate the instability of these weak layers. Any avalanche triggered on them could be deadly.”

Making cautious terrain choices will be an important strategy for all backcountry users over the next few days. A good way to do this is by sticking to lower-angle slopes and choosing smaller objectives that minimize the consequences of an avalanche.

“Given the unpredictability of avalanches, and their devastating potential consequences, we’re urging everyone to stay safe by exercising caution and making informed decisions when planning a trip in the backcountry,” said Bowinn Ma, B.C.’s Minister of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness, in the release. “Please follow the guidance of Avalanche Canada during this time of heightened risk.”

Backcountry users should always check the avalanche forecast at avalanche.ca. Everyone in a backcountry party needs the essential rescue gear—transceiver, probe, and shovel—and the training to use it. 

For a map of the SPAW region, click here.


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