Warming temperatures trigger large, destructive avalanches

Avalanche Canada issued a public avalanche warning for the Southern Interior as a result of warming temperatures and weak snowpack.

Avalanche Canada has issued a special public avalanche warning for the Southern Interior ranges of B.C. as a result of warming temperatures and a weak snowpack. The warning is in effect from Feb. 13 to Feb. 15, covering the backcountry in the South Columbia, Purcells, Kootenay-Boundary, South Rockies and Lizard Range and Flathead regions.

“We have had a number of recent reports of unexpectedly large avalanches in this region,” senior public avalanche forecaster James Floyer said. “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.”

Floyer noted that cool temperatures could halt the problem.

“Cooler temperature may make it less likely that a human could trigger an avalanche, but the underlying issue—a weak snowpack—remains the same,” said Floyer. “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 being advised to stick to simple, low-angel terrain, avoid big, steep slopes and minimize exposure to overhead hazards. Avalanche Canada is also advising backcountry users to regroup in safe zones away from avalanche run-outs.

For more information and to keep track of the avalanche forecast, visit www.avalanche.ca