For the third time in four weeks, the Canadian Avalanche Centre (CAC) is issuing a Special Public Avalanche Warning for recreational backcountry users. The warning area includes all the mountains of interior BC — from Mackenzie and Chetwynd south to the US boundary, and west of the Alberta border to Pemberton and Hope. Not included are the Sea to Sky region, and the Northwest Coastal and Northwest Inland regions. The warning is in effect from Friday March 16 through to Monday March 19.
“What concerns us is an expected lull in the stormy weather this weekend, which will give backcountry users an opportunity to get up into the alpine,” explains Karl Klassen, Manager of the CAC’s Public Avalanche Warning Services. “But there’s up to two metres of new snow in the high country that has not yet stabilized, on top of those same deeply buried weak layers we’ve been concerned about for the past month.”
The CAC has received numerous reports of very large avalanches throughout the warning area during the storm over the past week. “Many slopes are at or close to the tipping point,” warns Klassen. “Very large, very destructive avalanches are expected this weekend. Some of these will likely overrun low angle terrain, striking valley bottom and it’s possible that historical boundaries will be extended in some avalanche paths.”
The CAC advises all recreational backcountry users to make consistently cautious decisions this weekend and to avoid avalanche terrain. All members of a backcountry party need to be equipped with a shovel, probe and transceiver. The CAC strongly recommends all backcountry users take an Avalanche Safety Training 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.