Avalanche Canada has issued an immediate warning for backcountry users in B.C. and Alberta.
According to the Revelstoke-based organization, with many regions across the two provinces basking in unseasonably warm temperatures, backcountry conditions are ripe for potential avalanches.
In issuing the special public avalanche warning on Thursday, Avalanche Canada says the warnings include B.C.’s Sea to Sky and South Coast inland regions, a large swath of Interior mountains plus Jasper and Glacier national parks.
Avalanche Canada says the special warning is in effect immediately and will apply through to the end of Sunday, Feb. 13.
The warning for B.C.’s Interior includes the following regions: Cariboo, North Columbia, South Columbia, Kootenay Boundary and Purcells.
“Our main concern is a critical weak layer buried about 60 cm below the snow surface throughout these regions,” said Avalanche Canada forecasting program supervisor James Floyer.
“This layer is deep enough to produce large avalanches, yet shallow enough to be triggered by a human or machine. The forecast of warm temperatures and sun will contribute to this problem this weekend.”
Avalanche Canada says the weak layer is most active at treeline elevation, where the forest opens up and gives way to the alpine and many good riding options exist.
“Backcountry users are encouraged to stick to simple terrain and to avoid grouping up in places threatened by avalanches from above,” said Avalanche Canada.
“Under the current conditions, sparsely treed slopes do not provide protection from avalanches and could be even more dangerous due to the risk of being swept into trees,” said Floyer.
“Lower angled slopes or densely forested areas, where the tree canopies are touching, will be better choices as long as they are not threatened by steep slopes from above.”
For more information about regional avalanche forecasts, visit Avalanche Canada’s website.