After 10 human-triggered avalanches lead to several ‘near misses’ and left multiple people buried in snow over Family Day long weekend, Avalanche Canada is asking anyone in the backcountry to be careful.
“There is some trickiness with the snowpack,” Avalanche Canada forecasting program supervisor James Floyer said.
“We did see maybe around 10 close calls with people in the area [of B.C.] south of Revelstoke.”
Four people were buried in avalanches near Vancouver and Fernie over the long weekend. North Shore Rescue is still searching for a Surrey man caught up in “quite a sizeable avalanche” on Mount Seymour.
We've revised our forecast for the South Coast region. The current snowpack is unusual for this area. Use extra caution & ensure that you have avalanche safety training and equipment if you're heading into the backcounty #AvCan
— Avalanche Canada (@avalancheca) February 19, 2019
Floyer said the prolonged period of cold temperatures can lead to more dangerous conditions on the mountains.
The cold, he said, means that a weak layer of snow crystals has been buried under 50 to 100 centimetres of snow, making it seem deceivingly stable.
“That upper snowpack feels dense [and when it moves] that gives us a slab avalanche,” Floyer said.
While no one can completely predict when an avalanche is coming, Floyer said skiers, boarders and snowmobilers should “select lower angled slopes that don’t roll over in a convex way.”
“If there is an avalanche triggered on that slope you might get caught up in it and that might not have a good outcome.”
If you do find yourself on that kind of slope, “think about escape routes” and slowly move off the side of the slope, Floyer said.
Although Floyer recommends learning how to avoid avalanches, he said it’s important to make sure people aren’t alone on remote slopes, they have transceivers to help their companions and search crews find them and they’re dressed for the elements.