(Release from Avalanche Canada)

Avalanche Canada is issuing a Special Public Avalanche Warning for recreational backcountry users, in effect immediately until end of day Sunday, Feb 24.  The warning applies to BC’s South Coast region and Vancouver Island. For a map of the area covered by the warning, click here.

At issue is a weak layer in the snowpack that is currently buried about 50 cm deep. The next storm forecast for Friday is expected to bring another 10 – 15 cm of snow, before clearing for the weekend. The weak layer will remain fairly easy to trigger and with the added snow on top, the resulting avalanches could be deadly.

“We do not expect the snow to stabilize after the storm, which is unusual for the coastal mountains,” explains James Floyer, Warning Program Supervisor for Avalanche Canada. “Human-triggered avalanches will be likely over the weekend, especially on steeper terrain. The clearing skies and fresh snow will be very inviting but we are urging backcountry users to be extra cautious during this period.”

Snowpack tests were conducted on Feb 20 as part of the investigation into the recent fatal avalanche on Runner Peak. The videos linked below clearly demonstrate how easy it is to trigger this weak layer.

Extended Column Test: https://www.dropbox.com/s/8dfl5wbu5fdgyq1/SnowTest-ECT.mov?dl=0

Propagation Saw Test: https://www.dropbox.com/s/ye4srwlhi0h5y54/IMG_0133.MOV?dl=0

Avalanche Canada is warning backcountry users in the regions covered by this warning to use safe travel techniques and avoid avalanche terrain. Everyone in a backcountry party needs the essential rescue gear—transceiver, probe and shovel—and know how to use it. Always check the current avalanche conditions at www.avalanche.ca.