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Controlled avalanche caught on camera

Staff writers
January 9, 2013 — The Weather Network was on the scene as a triggered avalanche took place at BC's Kootenay Pass on Wednesday.

Wednesday's avalanche risk
Wednesday's avalanche risk

Reporter Kelsey McEwen, Weather Network meteorologist and storm hunter Mark Robinson, and storm chaser George Kourounis joined forces with avalanche prevention personnel at BC's Kootenay Pass to film the exact moment a snow-covered mountainside came crashing down.

The dramatic footage was captured by our cameras Wednesday afternoon. 

Avalanche forecaster Robb Andersen says Tuesday night's snowfall helped to create some instability. 

The crew was right in the avalanche area, with a front-row seat.

"We still had to be very careful," Robinson said.

"We were wearing avalanche beacons [and] we've got Robb with us to show us where we can and can't stand."

Avalanches are a potential risk in the mountains of BC and Alberta
Avalanches are a potential risk in the mountains of BC and Alberta

"It looks like we couldn't have picked a better week to be out here," adds McEwen. "There hasn't been a triggered avalanche since before Christmas, and the snowfall forecast seems to really be leaning in our favour."

Controlled avalanches are often carried out by trained personnel in the mountains of Alberta and B.C., and Kourounis says they are essential to averting real disaster.

"Once the threat level gets up high enough, we need to shut down the road, get the people off, bring the avalanches down in a controlled manner, so we can reopen the road, and then people can get through the pass safely," he says. 

This year's controlled slide went off without a hitch.

Seconds after the camera picked up an audible "bang" from a cannon, snow can be seen rushing down the mountain, onto the closed highway below.

"This is incredible!" Kelsey exclaimed as the snow collided with the road.

"The feeling of being here, down on the highway, is absolutely incredible."

Canada sees thousands of avalanches  each year, with the majority of them occurring in British Columbia, Yukon and Alberta.

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