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Avalanche Canada issues warning for recreational backcountry users

The map show that the Kootenay Boundary region is one of the areas of concern. — Courtesy Avalanche Canada

Recent storms coupled with a prolonged drought the past six weeks has prompted Avalanche Canada to issue a Special Public Avalanche Warning for recreational backcountry users, in effect immediately until the end of day Sunday, December 16.

Avalanche Canada said this new snow is not bonding well to the old surface that formed during the drought.

The warning applies to the Kootenay Boundary as well as the following forecast regions: Lizard Range and Flathead, Purcells, North Rockies, South & North Columbia, Cariboos, Sea-to-Sky, South Coast, South Coast

“Our main concern is that we are expecting the weather to clear on Saturday,” James Floyer, senior avalanche forecaster for Avalanche Canada, said Thursday.

“After all this rain in the valleys, backcountry users are going to want to hit the alpine but that’s where the danger is greatest. There’s a very weak layer now buried anywhere between 60 and 150 cm. Any avalanche triggered on that layer will definitely be life threatening.”

Avalanche Canada warns anyone accessing higher elevation terrain to be aware of this hazard. This means skiers and boarders leaving ski resort boundaries and snowmobilers riding at or above the treeline. Everyone in a backcountry party needs the essential rescue gear — transceiver, probe and shovel — and know how to use it.

Current avalanche conditions are available at www.avalanche.ca.