For the first weekend of spring, the Canadian Avalanche Centre (CAC) is issuing its fourth Special Public Avalanche Warning in five weeks. The warning area includes the South Coast Inland, the North and South Columbias, the Cariboos, the Purcells, the South Rockies, the Lizard Range and the Kootenay Boundary region. This warning is in effect from Saturday, March 24, through to Monday, March 26.
“Our main concern is the same weak layer we have been tracking for the past month,” says Ilya Storm, Forecast Coordinator for the CAC’s Public Avalanche Warning Service.
“Over the past few days, we have received numerous reports of very large avalanches and near-misses throughout the areas affected by the warning. We’re hearing about people with lots of experience who were surprised by avalanches, sometimes triggered from a significant distance,” explains Storm. “What’s significant is that in many of these cases, the terrain was relatively simple. That tells us this weak layer is primed for triggering.”
Adding to the situation, the weekend forecast is for clear skies and sunshine in the regions covered by the warning. “The sun is going to entice backcountry users in the alpine, but at the same time it will have a destabilizing effect on the snowpack,” explains Storm. “With the current volatility of that layer, this is a potentially deadly combination.”
The CAC has posted a “conditions alert” on their YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/user/CanadianAvalancheCtr
The CAC advises all recreational backcountry users to make consistently cautious decisions and to avoid avalanche terrain in the areas targeted by the special warning. All members of a backcountry party must be equipped with a shovel, probe and transceiver. The CAC strongly recommends all backcountry users take an Avalanche Skills Training course. Snowpack stability changes constantly through the winter and spring. Backcountry users need to check the avalanche forecasts regularly to keep informed of conditions in their area. More detailed information is also available on the CAC Forecaster’s Blog. For the forecasts, blog and information on training check www.avalanche.ca/cac.