B.C.'s Coquihalla Highway reopens after dangerous avalanche forces its closure
Saturday, February 22, 2014, 5:52 -
Officials have reopened British Columbia's Coquihalla Highway between Hope and Merrit after being closed off this week due to an avalanche.
The highway which links B.C.'s south coast and southern Interior was closed after a series of storms created avalanche conditions 'not seen in the 27-year history of the Coquihalla', according to officials.
Avalanche technicians deemed the highway safe Saturday morning, after avalanche control activities carried out on Friday were successful.
HIGH AVALANCHE RISK
There's a considerable to high avalanche risk across much of B.C., prompting the Canadian Avalanche Centre to issue a special public warning.
"The warning is in effect immediately and extends to the end of the day on Wednesday, February 26," the CAC says.
According to Karl Klassen with the CAC, the heightened risk is a result of the extended dry period in late January and early February.
"That long drought left the surface of the snowpack in very bad shape," says Klassen. "Now the new snow is sitting on one of the worst weak layers we've seen in a few years. That weakness is currently anywhere between one and two metres deep so when it’s triggered, the resulting avalanches are very large."
Klassen adds that there's a lot of pent-up demand for outdoor activity following the dry spell, "but this weak layer is going to be a problem for the foreseeable future."
Recreationists are urged to stay cautious in avalanche terrain.
According to the CAC, those traveling to the backcountry should have:
- An avalanche transceiver.
In addition, "everyone should have some training in recognizing avalanche terrain and applying safe backcountry travel techniques," says the CAC.
With files from The Canadian Press