A non-profit organization dedicated to public avalanche safety is warning British Columbians of “considerable” risk on Friday due to the winter storm.
Avalanche Canada expects the severe weather to deliver “significant precipitation,” burying a weak, unconsolidated layer of “sugary” snow created by recent prolonged cold weather.
A considerable risk rating means conditions are dangerous, and, while natural avalanches are possible, human-triggered avalanches are likely. Avalanches large and small are expected.
A moderate risk level means a heightened risk on certain terrain, with natural avalanches unlikely.
Friday’s storm is expected to bring up to 15 centimetres of snow in much of the province, according to Environment Canada.
Areas under considerable avalanche risk include the Sunshine Coast, the Sea-to-Sky area, the North Shore, the eastern Fraser Valley and the Fraser Canyon.
The rating also applies to the interior of Vancouver Island, from north of Lake Cowichan to just south of Port McNeil, along with northwestern B.C. from Kitimat to Kitsault.
In the Interior, the Kootenays are under considerable risk, while areas under moderate or low risk include the North Coast alongside the Alaskan panhandle, plus parts of the Okanagan and Thompson regions and the Rocky Mountains.
An avalanche forecast provides danger ratings for alpine, treeline and below treeline land. Each level of terrain can have its own rating. Avalanche Canada has generally listed the alpine and treeline levels as having the greatest risk under current and forecast conditions.
In a Friday statement, the B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure warned conditions on Highway 3 from Hope to Princeton and Princeton to Hedley will be particularly dangerous over the weekend.
“Avalanche technicians are monitoring at-risk areas and will be providing regular hazard updates as conditions change,” the ministry said.
Highway 1 near Jackass Mountain will be closed between midnight and daylight Saturday morning, it warned. Highway 1 through the Fraser Canyon may also transition to extreme hazard status on Saturday morning, while Allison Pass between Hope and Princeton could transition to high hazard and a road closure overnight, it added.
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