March 22, 2013, Revelstoke, BC: The Canadian Avalanche Centre (CAC) is issuing a Special Public Avalanche Warning for backcountry recreational users in BC’s Northwest Coast and Inland regions. The region affected includes the coastal areas of the northwest, with a special focus on Terrace, Stewart and north to Ningunsaw Pass, as well as inland to the Hazelton and Smithers area. This warning is in effect immediately and extends through the coming weekend.
The snowpack in this region has an uncharacteristic weak layer, explains Ilya Storm, coordinator of the CAC’s public avalanche warning service. “It’s not at a hair-trigger but that actually makes things trickier,” says Storm. “This layer is still sensitive to being triggered by the weight of a skier or snowmobiler. Avalanches may be triggered on low-angle terrain, even from a distance, and could be surprisingly large. Even though the usual signs of instability may not be obvious, the consequences of a mistake could be fatal.”
The problem layer is widespread, even extending high into the alpine. With a weather forecast calling for clear skies over the weekend, the CAC is urging recreational backcountry users in this region to exercise extra caution in their backcountry travels. The CAC strongly recommends all recreational backcountry users take an avalanche awareness course, and check the avalanche bulletin regularly to keep informed of conditions in their area. More detailed information is also available on the CAC forecaster’s blog. For the bulletins, blog and information on training, check www.avalanche.ca/cac.