March 29, 2016 - 3:53 PM
THOMPSON-OKANAGAN – Visitors to the Interior backcountry are being warned of an increased avalanche hazard as warmer weather destabilizes snowpacks across the region.
A special public avalanche warning was issued for all of Western Canada from the Yukon to the United States border and from the Pacific Ocean to the Rockies.
Warning service manager Karl Klassen says they are expecting weather to have a big impact on snowpack over the next week.
“Given that many slopes have yet to see a full-blown warm up we are predicting a widespread and varied array of avalanche problems this week including cornice failures, surface-layer avalanches, and failure on deeper persistent weak layers,” he says. “While this is not atypical weather for this time of year, clear-sky days often lead to underestimating hazard and failing to manage risk appropriately.”
Klassen recommends backcountry users move onto terrain that’s safe from avalanches when the morning sun strikes alpine slopes and cornices.
“As daytime temperatures rise and the upper layers of the snowpack become moist or wet, recreationists are advised to avoid avalanche terrain completely,” he says. “Starting trips in the morning when it’s still cold and before the sun rises, with the goal of being out of avalanche terrain by early afternoon at the latest, is a good risk management strategy.”
The warning, which was issued on the Avalanche Canada website, recommends everyone visiting the backcountry have an avalanche transceiver, probe and shovel. A two-day Avalanche Skills Training 1 course is the minimum training recommended for travelling in avalanche terrain.
For up-to-date weather and warnings, visit the Avalanche Canada website.
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