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Avalanche risk high this weekend

There is a high risk of avalanche activity throughout the Interior right now.
Image Credit: Avalanche Canada
November 27, 2014 - 4:30 PM


THOMPSON-OKANAGAN - A warning has been issued to all backcountry users this weekend as the risk of avalanche increases with the quick weather change headed our way.

Avalanche Canada has issued a warning for mountains throughout the Interior, including Kootenay Boundary and the North and South Columbia ranges. The warning extends north into the Cariboos and east to Alberta as well.

The warning comes on the heals of heavy snowfall throughout the Interior. The Coquihalla Summit has seen more than 75 centimetres of snow, as well as some rain, over the past week while Albert Canyon on Highway 1 had accumulations reach nearly 60 cm by this morning. As of Friday, Nov. 21 the Coquihalla Summit had recorded just 2 cm of snow on the ground and Albert Canyon had about 5 cm.

Temperatures sat above 0 Celsius in many areas today but will drop significantly as a cold front moves over the Interior. The Arctic cold front, expected to keep temperatures below 0 C for at least a week, will bring snow and gusting winds.

The heavy snow and warm temperatures have led to a high avalanche risk this week, several large natural avalanches occurred in Glacier National Park and Highway 5A was shut down between Aspen Grove and Princeton for a while this week for this reason. As the temperature drops the danger rating for natural avalanche activity will decrease, but the potential for large and destructive human triggered avalanches will remain.

“The slow start to the winter, with cold temperatures and low snowfall, gave us a weak snowpack,” Avalanche Canada Public Avalanche Forecaster Joe Lammers said in a release. “Now we’ve finally had a good storm and people are ready to ride. But all that new snow fell on a relatively fragile structure. This weekend there’s going to be pent-up demand for powder snow. It will be essential to take things slow and exercise cautious decision making.”

The warning is in place for all recreational backcountry users and is in effect from Friday, Nov. 28 through Monday, Dec. 1.

All backcountry users must be equipped with essential avalanche safety equipment. Everyone in the party needs an avalanche transceiver, a probe and a shovel every day. It’s equally important that everyone has avalanche training and has practiced using this equipment. If an avalanche occurs, the rescue is up to you. There is no time to go for help. Wearing an avalanche balloon pack can reduce the chances of burial.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Jennifer Stahn at or call 250-819-3723. To contact an editor, email or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014
InfoTel News Ltd

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