Avalanche experts in B.C. are asking skiers and snowboarders to be especially careful this weekend.
“We're expecting an incremental loading over the holiday period which is likely going to increase avalanche hazard associated with this weakness,” says Cam Campbell, Senior Forecaster at the Canadian Avalanche Centre.
Snow is in the forecast, and it could fall on an already weak snowpack. That could result in slides.
“Particularly we're worried about more people triggering avalanches rather than the natural-occurring spontaneous avalanches,” says Campbell.
One area of concern is between Salmon Arm and Golden. Several highways also run through that area, which could lead to some Christmas travel delays.
Campbell says that anyone going into the backcountry this weekend should check the CAC's bulletins.
“They are issued daily for 14 regions across western Canada, and that's where they'll get the most up-to-date information on how the various weaknesses are behaving and the avalanche hazard associated with those weaknesses,” he says.
The ski season in British Columbia's Interior got off to an early start, courtesy of some heavy snow. However, changing weather conditions have made the snowpack less stable.
“It was mid-November when we started seeing large avalanches fairly widespread due to really intense storms that were rolling in. That of course built a good thick base to the snowpack,” Campbell says. “Then during December, the first couple of weeks anyway, we didn't see any snowfall at all in most regions. That clear, calm cold weather caused the surface to deteriorate.”
Last year, there was above average snowpack in southern parts of the province, and that kept the risk of avalanches going well into the spring.
“It's interesting, last year there was a lot more snow at lower elevations and it tended to be a bit colder winter. But most of the snow actually fell in February and March when we had storm after storm after storm,” says Campbell.
You can stay up-to-date with current conditions on the slopes by checking our Ski Report.