Andrea Stockton, staff writer
January 23, 2011 — The Weather Network's Oga Nwobosi explains why the risk of avalanches in the west is so high.
The Canadian Avalanche Centre (CAC) has issued a Special Public Avalanche Warning after fresh snow helped to weaken layers in the snowpack.
The warning covers most of the mountainous regions in southern and central B.C. It was issued last Thursday afternoon and will remain in place until Monday, January 24. The avalanche risk was lowered to considerable on Thursday, but the CAC says the main concern is weak layers that are buried deep within the snowpack.
As the fresh snow begins to settle, the chance for natural avalanches to occur decreases, which tempts backcountry users to hit aggressive terrain. But authorities say that could be a deadly choice. The CAC suggests that backcountry users stay away from any large, steep and complex slopes.
“High avalanche danger...happens from time to time,” says John Kelly with the CAC. “It's part of the ups and downs of winter.”
CAC Public Avalanche Warning Services Manager Karl Klassen says, “The nature of these layers is a mixed bag...different regions have different problems but the fundamental concern applies across the board -- there's up to two metres of new snow sitting on some kind of fragile layer.”
The Trans-Canada Highway between Golden, British Columbia and Lake Louise, Alberta reopened Wednesday after being closed since January 14 due to an extremely high avalanche risk. Crews triggered slides to lessen the danger to motorists before reopening the route.
A week ago, three people died in avalanches in B.C. and Alberta. To survive avalanche season, anyone who ventures into remote areas should know how to recognize dangerous terrain, the avalanche centre advises.
With files from The Canadian Press and Alexandra Pope