Avalanche Canada has issued a special public avalanche warning for all mountains in western Canada, including the South Coast Inland region and the North and South Columbia regions.
More than a dozen B.C. communities set new temperature records on March 17, and the warning comes ahead of more warm weather, with temperatures in the area projected to break the 20° C mark later in the week.
Backcountry use is expected to increase over the next two weeks during spring break, which started on March 15. Avalanche Canada said the dramatic temperature rise will increase the likelihood of avalanches throughout the province.
“This is the first big warming to hit our snowpack, which is still fairly complex and winter-like,” says Senior Avalanche Forecaster Grant Helgeson.
“Any time the snowpack is hit with a big change, it tends to de-stabilize. The temperatures are forecast to increase substantially this week, with no nighttime cooling. This will weaken the snowpack, increasing the possibility of large natural avalanches and making it easier for the weight of a person to trigger deeper weak layers.”
The warning applies to all forecast regions in western Canada. Travel in avalanche terrain is not recommended in these very dangerous conditions.
Below the treeline there is considerable danger, requiring careful snowpack evaluation, cautious route finding, and conservative decision-making.
Avalanche Canada warns all backcountry users, including those going outside ski area boundaries, to keep careful track of their regional avalanche forecasts at https://www.avalanche.ca.
Everyone in a backcountry party needs the essential rescue gear—transceiver, probe, and shovel—and the knowledge to use it. Ensure your party re-groups well away from avalanche slopes, including overhead hazards such as cornices.
Those heading to the mountains to explore the front country should be aware that many popular summer trails are exposed to avalanche terrain. Plan ahead and research your route to make sure you are avoiding these areas.