Avalanche Canada has issued a special avalanche warning for mountains across southern B.C. and Alberta.
“The danger ratings are going down across the map because naturally running avalanches have slowed down or stopped,” explains Ilya Storm, forecast program supervisor for Avalanche Canada, in a news release. “However, now many slopes are primed for human-triggered avalanches. Distinguishing between slopes that have already slid and those that are the tipping point will be very difficult. This, combined with clearing weather during a holiday week, has us very concerned for backcountry users.”
The warning applies to: Sea-to-Sky, South Coast Inland, Purcells, Lizard Range-Flathead, South Rockies, Kananaskis Country, Banff-Yoho-Kootenay National Parks and Waterton Lakes National Park.
|A map of the areas that are currently under a Special Public Avalanche Warning. (Avalanche Canada)|
The issue, Avalanche Canada said, is the persistent weak layer within the snowpack of these regions.
“Although the nature of the layer differs across the ranges, the effect is the same,” the news release said. “The storm that blew through Western Canada over the past few days dropped a significant amount of snow, which is now sitting precariously on that weak layer.”
Avalanche Canada, as well as Parks Canada and Alberta’s Kananaskis Country, warn all backcountry users, anyone recreating in avalanche terrain, including those going outside ski boundaries, to check regional avalanche forecasts, pack essential gear (including a transceiver, probe and shovel) and the knowledge to use it.
“Ensure your party re-groups well away from avalanche slopes, including overhead hazard such as cornices,” the news release said.
Those exploring the front country should also be aware that many popular summer trails are exposed to avalanche terrain.
“Plan ahead and research your route to make sure you are avoiding these areas, or hire a certified guide to lead your party,” said the news release.
Although the storm has cleared, many areas still need time for the snowpack to heal. Conservative choices will be the smart move for a while yet- it's a long season!
— Avalanche Canada (@avalancheca) December 23, 2019