January 02, 2015 - 8:12 AM
THOMPSON-OKANAGAN - As the winter break comes to an end, the temperatures are warming up and the snow is ready to fall. You may be thinking about heading out for some winter but be prepared if heading into the backcountry, avalanche risk is considered high in some areas and is at least considerable in most other areas.
Avalanche Canada issued a five-day special public avalanche warning on Christmas Day, and then extended it to Jan. 4. Below the treeline in the Kootenay Boundary and the South Columbia ranges the risk remains moderate but is considerable in the treeline and alpine areas.
In the North Columbia the risk rating was the same but on New Year's Day the forecasting centre increased it to a high rating in the alpine and a considerable risk from the treeline down. Avalanche forecasters believe chances are likely to very likely large avalanches could occur throughout all elevations.
A number of naturally triggered avalanches have been reported over the past few days and several large avalanches have been triggered by skiers. Avalanche control has already been performed in some areas, including along Highway 1 in Glacier National Park.
Backcountry users must be equipped with, and should have training with, essential avalanche safety equipment including an avalanche transceiver, a probe and a shovel. It is recommended backcountry users stay on simple, low-angle terrain and avoid large, steep slopes. Watch for overhead hazards, including other users on slopes above, and plan to re-group in safe zones away from run-out areas.
The special public avalanche warning includes all the ranges in our region, including the Kootenay Boundary range and the North and South Columbias, as well as the North Rockies, Cariboos, Purcells, South Rockies, Lixard and Flathead, the South Coast Inland region and the Sea-to-Sky.
Environment Canada is forecasting snow throughout the region, with flurries expected today through Sunday. By Monday temperatures will warm up to 4 Celsius through the Okanagan, which could result in rain at those lower elevations, and by Tuesday temperatures will reach 4 C in Kamloops as well.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015