On Feb. 20, 2013, the Canadian Avalanche Centre (CAC) issued a special public avalanche warning for recreational backcountry users in all of the CAC’s forecast regions, except the North Shore Mountains and the Yukon.
The warning was in effect immediately and extends to the end of the day on Feb. 26.
CAC’s public avalanche warning service. manager Karl Klassen says the warning is a result of the extended dry period of late January and early February.
“That long drought left the surface of the snowpack in very bad shape. Now, the new snow is sitting on one of the worst weak layers we’ve seen in a few years.
“That weakness is currently anywhere between one and two metres deep, so when it’s triggered, the resulting avalanches are very large.”
The problem layer is widespread, and with a weather forecast calling for clearing skies, the CAC urges recreational backcountry users to be very conservative in their terrain choices.
“There’s a lot of pent-up demand for powder after that dry spell, but this weak layer is going to be a problem for the foreseeable future. Staying safe will require patience and discipline as long as this layer is in play.”
The weak layer will likely persist after this warning expires and recreationalists are urged to remain cautious in avalanche terrain.
Everyone in a backcountry party needs to carry an avalanche transceiver, probe and shovel and be well-practiced with their rescue skills, Klassen notes.
The CAC strongly recommends that backcountry users take an Avalanche Skills Training course, and check the avalanche bulletin regularly to keep informed of conditions in their area. More detailed information is also available on the CAC blogs and forecasts at www.avalanche.ca/cac.