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Special avalanche warning issued for parts of Alberta and B.C.

“These warm temperatures are going to be a concern across all these regions, with the most significant impact in the south.”
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Avalanche Canada issued a special avalanche warning for parts of B.C. and western Alberta on Wednesday (March 3). AVALANCHE CANADA IMAGE

REVELSTOKE, B.C. – A special public avalanche warning has been issued for recreational backcountry users in parts of western Alberta and B.C. 

The warning was issued by Avalanche Canada on Wednesday (March 3), in partnership with Parks Canada and Alberta Parks, as a result of warming temperatures in the forecast. According to the release, the first period of warm weather of the season will destabilize the snowpack. 

“There are persistent weak layers in the snowpack all across this area,” said Avalanche Canada warning service manager Karl Klassen in a press release.

“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.”

This special warning applies to the following regions:

  • North Rockies
  • Cariboos
  • Jasper National Park
  • Banff, Yoho and Kootenay national parks
  • Kananaskis Country
  • South Rockies
  • Lizard and Flathead
  • Waterton Lakes National Park

Several close calls have been reported recently, according to Avalanche Canada, with large avalanches running the full extent of their paths in the Rocky Mountain national parks area. 

“There is a lot of uncertainty with these weak layers,” Klassen said. “These warm temperatures are going to be a concern across all these regions, with the most significant impact in the south.”

According to a blog post from Avalanche Canada forecasters, March is historically the month with the most avalanche fatalities. Forecasters said a combination of snowpacks with persistent weak layers, combined with warmer weather and human factors can contribute to backcountry users underestimating the risk. 

Go to www.avalanche.ca for the most up-to-date avalanche forecast. All backcountry recreation users should also carry essential rescue gear with them – transceiver, probe and shovel – and know how to use it. 

The special warning is in effect until Sunday (March 7).