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Special avalanche warning issued for B.C. interior after skier dies

Special avalanche warning issued for much of B.C. interior ranges . Credit: Avalanche Canada

Four days after an Alberta man died in an avalanche near Fernie B.C., Avalanche Canada issued a special public avalanche warning for B.C.’s interior ranges.

The warning for recreational backcountry users is in effect immediately until Monday, Jan. 15.

The warning applies to the Lizard Range & Flathead, South Rockies, Purcells, Kootenay Boundary, South & North Columbia, Glacier National Park and the Cariboos.

READ MORE: Backcountry skier seriously injured in avalanche on Mount Seymour

For a map of the regions involved, click here.

A statement from Avalanche Canada said the snowpack contains a number of weak layers and snowstorms have buried the layers anywhere from 40 centimetres to more than a metre deep.

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It says the weight of the new snow has brought the unstable snowpack to a critical point, making it very easy for skiers or snowmobilers to trigger large avalanches.

READ MORE: Backcountry skier seriously injured in avalanche on Mount Seymour

“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. “It’s a complex situation and we are now at the tipping point. The warmer temperatures forecast for the coming weekend will definitely increase the chances of triggering an avalanche.”

The non-profit organization said there have been a number of near misses reported over the past seven to 10 days, as well as a fatal avalanche accident north of Fernie on Jan. 8.

A 36-year-old Calgary man died after getting caught in an avalanche in the Lizard Mountain range area of southeast B.C.

His name has not been released.

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