Special Public Avalanche Warning Issued

Special Public Avalanche Warning Issued”

A special public avalanche warning has been issued for B.C.'s interior ranges, with outdoor enthusiasts being told not to venture into the backcountry.

According to Avalanche Canada and Parks Canada, the snowpack in those areas has a number of weak layers that have been covered by a heavy snow load that is, in some areas, one metre deep - flawless conditions for triggering a large avalanche.

"The weight of the new snow has brought this unstable snowpack to a critical point", they wrote, "making it very easy for skiers or snowmobilers to trigger large avalanches".

"We have been keeping a close eye on these weak layers and the snow load that has been accumulating on top of them", explains James Floyer, forecasting program supervisor for Avalanche Canada.

"Unfortunately it isn't a snowpack situation that will heal particularly quickly, and in some areas we might even see that problem actually increasing in severity as we move forward in time".

Floyer said warmer temperatures expected on the weekend will likely make conditions worse.

There has been a lot of avalanche activity in the southeast corner of BC over the last few days.

In addition to the fatal avalanche, which took place in the Lizard Mountain range Monday afternoon, Floyer said there have been a number of other near-misses in the past week.

If you're heading out into British Columbia's snow-capped mountains this weekend for backcountry skiing or sledding, be warned. The 43-year-old Albertan was found by helicopter partially buried under his bike in a small avalanche.

The agency said many have been in areas normally considered fairly safe.

"Those are quite unusual conditions and then they're quite risky for people to manage, and so unless people have professional level training and safety systems in place, we really are recommending that people avoid avalanche terrain at this time", said Floyer.

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