Avalanche Canada is issuing a special public avalanche warning this weekend for the backcountry in the South Columbia, Purcells, Kootenay-Boundary, South Rockies and Lizard Range and Flathead regions. This warning is in effect from Feb. 13 to Feb. 15.
“We have had a number of recent reports of unexpectedly large avalanches in these regions,” says Senior Public Avalanche Forecaster James Floyer. “The snowpack is being affected by unseasonably warm temperatures. This warming is stressing weak layers buried deep in the snowpack. We are waking a sleeping dragon in some cases.”
If the temperatures cool on Sunday as forecast, that will likely diminish the problem, adds Floyer. “Cooler temperatures may make it less likely that a human could trigger an avalanche but the underlying issue—a weak snowpack—remains the same. We are cautioning all backcountry users to avoid aggressive riding in alpine bowls and exposure to large runout zones over the coming weekend.”
Recreational backcountry users are recommended to stick to simple, low-angle terrain, avoid big, steep slopes, minimize exposure to overhead hazard, and re-group in safe zones away from avalanche run-outs. If you do not have the training or experience to assess avalanche terrain, stay in areas where avalanche risk is professionally managed.
All backcountry users must be equipped with essential avalanche safety equipment. Everyone in the party needs an avalanche transceiver, a probe and a shovel every day. It’s equally important that everyone has avalanche training and has practiced using this equipment. If an avalanche occurs, the rescue is up to you. There is no time to go for help. Wearing an avalanche balloon pack can reduce the chances of burial.