Avalanche Canada forecasting dangerous conditions in the alpine and treeline areas

Travel in avalanche terrain not recommended this weekend

A snowstorm is brewing and Avalanche Canada is warning the avalanche danger will increase through the day on Friday for the Northwest Inland region.

“It is looking like we are going to see up to 60 cm by Friday evening,” said Avalanche Forecaster Ari Hanna. “The previous storms that had been forecasting high precipitation amounts, they weren’t really hitting the Smithers area— the high recreational use areas around Hudson Bay [Mountain] but this storm is forecasting to hit that area. The winds will be moderate, in the 40 km/hr range and that will blow the snow around and elevate the avalanche hazard.”

Avalanche Canada has set the danger rating for high in the alpine area and considerable for the treeline area for Friday and both high in the alpine and treeline areas for Saturday. This means there are very dangerous avalanche conditions and travel in avalanche terrain is not recommended.

Hanna also said to be aware of the potential for large avalanches due to the presence of buried surface hoar.

“There are some weak layers buried in the snowpack and including the storm snow, they will be about 50 cm to a metre down. The storm’s snow will be a significant load on those weak layers, so there is potential for either the new snow to trigger avalanches on the deeper weak layers or for avalanches in the storm snow, like avalanches are big loads themselves and then those can step down to the weak layers resulting in quite big avalanches,” she added.

She said to use conservative route selection and choose simple, low-angle, well-supported terrain if venturing into the backcountry this weekend.

“For visibility and comfort purposes, I don’t anticipate a lot of people trying to get up super high in the alpine during the storm. But be mindful for overhead hazards from avalanches and stay in the really simple type of terrain,” she said.

Before heading out to ski or sled Hanna recommends taking a safety course.

“There are a variety of courses. Even if people have previous training, a refresher course is a good idea,” she said

She also advised backcountry enthusiasts to take the necessary equipment out with them including an avalanche transceiver, probe and shovel.

“Be prepared and make sure your partners are prepared as well,” she added. “Even if you have all the training, say you were to be involved in an incident, you would want your partner to have all the training.”

Hanna also recommends checking current conditions on Avalanche Canada’s website before heading out.

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