Backcountry Avalanche Hazard Soars

John Crawford
03/19/2019

"Sunshine and warmth may feel good to us, but it doesn't help the snow."

That's the warning for backcountry users here in the northwest from Avalanche Canada, as the hazard rating is now "Considerable" to "High" for all elevations of both the Coastal and Inland zones of the region.

Avalanche forecasters are especially worried that warmer weather, combined with spring break schedules, likely means that more people will be in the mountains.

Avalanche-Hazard-Mar-29-2019.jpg
[Avalanche Canada map for Mar 19 2019 --- https://www.avalanche.ca/map ]
 

Avalanche Canada's website is warning snowmobilers to let the mountains shed some of their winter coat before heading into the backcountry, saying that riding will be better, or at least safer, when it cools off in a few days.

The situation is even more dangerous in the Rockies, where a widespread public avalanche warning is now in place.

Senior avalanche forecaster Grant Helgeson says any time the snowpack is hit with a big change -- it tends to de-stabilize.

Substantial warming this week is expected to increase the possibility of large natural avalanches -- and make it easier for the weight of a person to trigger deeper weak layers.

Along with backcountry skiers and snowmobilers -- the centre also warns snowshoers and hikers that many popular summer trails are exposed to avalanche terrain.

It recommends planning ahead -- researching your route -- and avoiding those exposed areas.

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