A special public avalanche warning has been issued for much of backcountry in the B.C. Interior and Alberta following winter storms that recently passed through Western Canada.
Forecasters have identified a critical weak layer roughly 60 to 100 centimetres below the surface which, combined with the recent snowfall, can trigger large avalanches by people skiing, snowshoeing or snowmobiling.
The warning is in effect until Monday, Dec. 27.
1/4 ❗️ We have issued a Special Public Avalanche Warning for mountains across Southern BC and Alberta, effective until Sunday Dec 27. pic.twitter.com/E1H8hjOIz9— Avalanche Canada (@avalancheca) December 23, 2020
“With indoor gatherings restricted by the pandemic, we recognize many of us will want to spend time outdoors in our beautiful backcountry over the holidays,” said James Floyer, forecast program supervisor for Avalanche Canada.
“People must be aware that even though the weather has settled, dangerous avalanche conditions remain throughout much of western Canada. There is a serious potential for large, human-triggered avalanches at this time.”
The warning specifically applies to the following regions:
• South Columbia
• North Columbia
• North Rockies
• South Rockies
• Lizard Range-Flathead
• Banff National Park
• Yoho National Park
• Glacier National Park
• Waterton Lakes National Park
• Kananaskis Country
Avalanche Canada, Parks Canada, and Kananaskis Country are urging backcountry users to make conservative terrain choices and stick to low-angle or densely forested sloped when recreating in avalanche-prone areas. Forecasters warn users to look out for terrain traps like cliffs, rocks, gullies and creek beds, and to approach steep slopes with extra caution.
“We know sunny weather can give people a false sense of security when they venture into the backcountry,” said Floyer. “This is not the time to let your guard down. Steep open slopes will look tempting but are best left alone for now.”
Anyone planning to head out in the backcountry should check the regional forecast with Avalanche Canada, and carry a transceiver, probe and shovel.
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