KANANASKIS – Avalanche Canada has extended a special avalanche warning for the Kananskis Country and Purcell regions.
The special avalanche warning was initially issued on Dec. 23 and included the other Rocky Mountain National Parks like Banff, Yoho and Kootenay.
Forecast program supervisor for Avalanche Canada James Floyer said in a press release Friday (Dec. 27) that forecasters remain concerned about a persistent layer of snow that is now buried more than a metre deep after a major snowfall event occurred in the week before Christmas.
“We’ve been tracking this layer since we issued the warning on Dec. 23,” Floyer said. “It seems to be settling down in a number of regions that were originally identified, but it remains very active in the Purcells and Kananaskis Country. We are urging backcountry users in these areas to choose simple terrain or avoid avalanche terrain completely.”
Avalanche Canada issued the warning Friday for all backcountry users and anyone recreating in avalanche terrain. That includes areas inside ski hill boundaries.
Backcountry users are also encouraged to always check the regional forecast at avalanche.ca and carry essential rescue gear – transceiver, probe and shover – and the knowledge of how to use it.
Kananaskis Public Safety posted on its Facebook page on Thursday (Dec. 26) warning about Tent Ridge in the provincial park due to a large avalanche for this region in December occurring on the northeast aspect at 2,600 metres.
According to the post, the avalanche path measured 1.3-kilometres in length and was up to two-metres deep. It took out trees that were 70 years old in some areas. Safety specialists noted that Tent bowl itself did not release and "has a very similar snowpack characteristics, but faces north just a slight bit more.
"When the snowpack is the question, terrain is the answer. This tent bowl area is ripe for human triggering and forecasters in this office have always found this particular area to be a very spooky feature that has lots of uncertainty."