Feb 7, 2019, Revelstoke, BC: Avalanche Canada is issuing a Special Public Avalanche Warning for recreational backcountry users, in effect immediately until the end of day Sunday, February 10. The warning applies to the following regions: North Rockies, Cariboos, North & South Columbia, Glacier National Park, Purcells, South Rockies and the Lizard Range. For a map of the regions involved, click here.
The issue in these regions is a weak layer at lower elevations, which means the snowpack at and below treeline is more dangerous than the alpine. Forecasters are concerned this unusual situation may catch some backcountry recreationists off guard. Many close-calls involving this layer have been reported over the past few days and with the coming weekend, more people will be heading out into the mountains.
“With this layer, the trees are not the safe haven they normally are,” explains Senior Avalanche Forecaster Grant Helgeson. “And identifying avalanche terrain in these lower elevations can be difficult. You need to be aware of smaller slopes like cutblocks, roadcuts, gullies or even just openings in the trees. This is where the weak layer will be a problem and where it’s primed for human-triggered avalanches.”
Avalanche Canada is warning backcountry users to use safe travel techniques and avoid avalanche terrain at and below treeline in the regions covered by this warning. Everyone in a backcountry party needs the essential rescue gear—transceiver, probe and shovel—and know how to use it. Always check the current avalanche conditions at www.avalanche.ca.
By Mary Clayton