Avalanche danger at a seasonal high in B.C. and Alberta
Sunday, March 19, 2017, 8:49 AM - People looking to hit the slopes in Alberta and B.C. this weekend are advised to be extra-cautious. Parks Canada is urging those who plan to be outdoors to check the forecast as numerous large, natural avalanches are falling at varied depths across the B.C.-Alberta border, along the Rocky Mountain range.
"Warm temperatures and precipitation will keep the landscape dangerously active," Parks Canada noted in its avalanche forecast for Jasper and Banff. The avalanche risk remains high across several popular parks, courtesy of a few factors; namely significant snowfall, shifting freezing levels, and fluctuating temperatures.
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"Spring typically has the highest avalanche risk in the alpine because freezing levels fluctuate a little more," says The Weather Network meteorologist Tyler Hamilton. "When paired with heavy spring snowfalls, this adds a significant increase in load to the snowpack."
Snowfall warnings were widespread on Saturday, spanning southern B.C. and southwestern Alberta along the Rocky Mountain range.
The snowfall warnings have since dropped, but the heightened avalanche risk will remain for the rest of the weekend and into the work week.
The alerts follow the death of two American snowshoers who were caught in an avalanche in Banff, just north of Lake Louise. Rescue teams retrieved the two on March 17 -- an estimated week after the couple died.
"March temperatures fluctuate frequently, so this time of year is generally prone to a heightened avalanche threat," The Weather Network meteorologist Matt Grinter adds. "For those hitting the slopes, I would say this weekend especially to stay on the main trail. Don't go off the beaten path."
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High pressure will dominate in the West for the early part of the week, keeping conditions clear for much of B.C. and Alberta on Monday.
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