Avalanche Canada has issued a special public avalanche warning for recreational backcountry users due to early season snow conditions.
The warning applies to the following forecast regions: Cariboos, Lizard Range and Flathead, Purcells, Kootenay Boundary, North Rockies, South and North Columbia, Vancouver Island, Sea-to-Sky, South Coast, South Coast Inland and Northwest Coastal.
For a map of the regions involved visit Avalanche Canada’s website.
After a prolonged drought in late November and early December, the province has been hit with a series of storms that have dropped a significant amount of snow. This new snow is not bonding well to the old surface that formed during the drought, said Avalanche Canada communications director Mary Clayton.
“After all this rain in the valleys, backcountry users are going to want to hit the alpine but that’s where the danger is greatest,” said senior avalanche forecaster for Avalanche Canada, James Floyer.
“There’s a very weak layer now buried anywhere between 60 and 150 centimetres. Any avalanche triggered on that layer will definitely be life threatening.”
In the Cariboos, Avalanche Canada advises natural avalanche activity has decreased to some degree, however, warns the potential for human-triggered avalanches remains likely.
Avalanche Canada will update its avalanche forecast on Monday, Dec. 17.
Meanwhile, they warn anyone accessing higher elevation terrain to be aware of this hazard. This means skiers and boarders leaving ski resort boundaries and snowmobilers riding at or above the treeline. Everyone in a backcountry party needs the essential rescue gear—transceiver, probe and shovel—and know how to use it. And always check the current avalanche conditions at www.avalanche.ca.