Sunday, March 7th 2021, 9:53 am - Special avalanche warning in effect for widespread area of B.C. and Alberta through the weekend.
A special public avalanche warning covers a widespread area for the mountains of eastern British Columbia and western Alberta. Avalanche Canada, in partnership with Parks Canada and Alberta’s Kananaskis Country, issued the warning for recreational backcountry users on Thursday.
The warning preceded a temperature climb on the weekend.
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"There are persistent weak layers in the snowpack all across this area," explains Karl Klassen, Warning Service Manager for Avalanche Canada. "When the sun and these high temperatures hit this complex snowpack, it’s going to have a destabilizing effect that will make natural and human-triggered avalanches much more likely."
According to officials, there have already been several "close calls" reported recently, and the Rocky Mountain National Parks report large avalanches running the full extent of their paths.
"There is a lot of uncertainty with these weak layers," adds Klassen.
Although temperatures are on an upward trend these days, a major focus remains on the south-facing slopes, where the greatest diurnal temperature will be occurring. The avalanche warning will remain in place through the weekend.
The deadliest month for avalanches in Canada is in fact March. According to Avalanche Canada, 27 percent of all avalanche fatalities in this country happen during this month.
Three major factors that contribute to this statistic include: a complex snowpack that’s developed during winter, a destabilized snowpack due to warming temperatures, and an increase in mountain accessibility that takes place in March.
Backcountry users are urged to always check their regional avalanche forecasts at www.avalanche.ca.