The Canadian Avalanche Centre (CAC) is issuing a Special Public Avalanche Warning for recreational backcountry users. The warning includes the mountains of the South Coast Inland, the Columbia Mountains from near Prince George in the north to the US border in the south, and BC’s South Rockies. The warning is in effect for this weekend, Saturday March 10 and Sunday March 11, 2012.
“We have a variety of issues within the snowpack right now that cause us two main concerns,” explains Ilya Storm, the CAC’s Public Avalanche Warning Services Coordinator. “The first is that the size of avalanches is likely to be much bigger than might be expected, and could be triggered remotely, which means triggered at a distance or from the bottom of the slope. Our other main concern is that slopes generally considered safer—lower angle, below treeline—are primed for human triggering.”
Local knowledge and a high degree of training and experience are required to travel safely in avalanche terrain this weekend, adds Storm. “Knowing the slope history is key to good decisions right now. And make sure you park in safe spots—well to the side of any avalanche path or far away from the runout zone. Given the size of recent avalanches, the bottom of runout zones this weekend might be father than you think.”
The CAC is advising all recreational backcountry users to carefully monitor avalanche bulletins. Everyone in a backcountry party needs to be equipped with a shovel, probe and transceiver and the CAC strongly recommends all backcountry users take an avalanche awareness course. Snowpack stability changes constantly throughout the winter. Backcountry users need to check the avalanche bulletin regularly to keep informed of conditions in their area. More detailed information is also available on the CAC forecaster’s blog. For the bulletins, blog and information on training, check www.avalanche.ca/cac.