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Special avalanche warning issued for western Canada

Regions in western Canada impacted by a special avalanche warning that was issued on March 18.
Regions in western Canada impacted by a special avalanche warning that was issued on March 18. www.avalanche.ca

A special avalanche warning has been issued for western Canada.

The warning, issued on Monday, applies to all of the mountain ranges Avalanche Canada forecasts for, as well as those covered by Parks Canada and Kananaskis Country.

Senior avalanche forecaster Grant Helgeson explained the warning was prompted by the dramatic temperature increase expected across BC and Alberta, which will increase the likelihood of avalanches in the mountains.

READ MORE: Vehicle ‘involved’ in Trans-Canada avalanche east of Revelstoke: B.C. Transportation Ministry

“This is the first big warming to hit our snowpack, which is still fairly complex and winter-like,” Helgeson said in a news release. “Any time the snowpack is hit with a big change, it tends to de-stabilize,”

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“This will weaken the snowpack on all aspects, increasing the possibility of large natural avalanches as well making it easier for the weight of a person to trigger deeper weak layers.”

Avalanche Canada, Parks Canada and Kananaskis Country joined together to warn backcountry users – including those going outside ski area boundaries – to keep careful track of their regional avalanche forecasts at www.avalanche.ca.

READ MORE: Highway camera images show aftermath of Trans-Canada avalanche

“Everyone in a backcountry party needs the essential rescue gear—transceiver, probe and shovel—and the knowledge to use it,” the news release stated. “Ensure your party re-groups well away from avalanche slopes, including overhead hazard such as cornices.”

Those heading to the mountains to snowshoe or explore the front country should also be aware that many popular summer trails are exposed to avalanche terrain.