In Canada this week, the avalanche conditions are cause for growing concern among forecasters in the western region, with warming temps posing the primary threat to backcountry safety. Avalanche Canada has officially released a special public avalanche warning to all backcountry users.
“We’re expecting this weather to have a big impact on the snowpack,” says Warning Service Manager Karl Klassen in the public warning posted on Avalanche Canada’s website. “Given that many slopes have yet to see a full-blown warm up, we are predicting a widespread and varied array of avalanche problems this week including cornice failures, surface-layer avalanches and failure on deeper persistent weak layers.”
Avalanche danger is currently variable across Western Canada, but Moderate and Considerable ratings in most regions give way to ratings of High avy danger in the mountains near Banff.
Conditions are poor,” says the report from the Little Yoho National Park. “The mountains are in the midst of a major transition from winter snowpack to spring melt/freeze cycle, and for the next few days the snowpack is not expected to freeze and gain any strength. Avoid avalanche terrain.”
In the Banff, Yoho and Kootenay National Parks zones, Avalanche Canada forecasters warn of daytime heating affecting the stability of the snowpack.
“Minimize exposure when the solar radiation is strong, especially if snow is moist or wet,” says the terrain advisory for this region. “If triggered, the loose wet sluffs may step down to deeper layers resulting in large avalanches.”
Klassen explains in the public announcement that the best way to stay safe is to start backcountry trips early in the morning and to make sure to be out of avalanche terrain by the afternoon when slopes have the most solar radiation affecting stability. Avalanche Canada also emphasizes the need to be prepared with proper rescue tools and to undergo avalanche education before venturing out in the backcountry.
For more information and to read the public avalanche warning, visit www.avalanche.ca.