Avalanche Canada has issued a warning for recreational back country users which is in effect immediately until day end on Sunday, December 16th.
Following a prolonged drought in late November and early December, a series of storms have dropped a significant amount of snow, which is not bonding well to the old surface formed during the drought.
In a written statement, James Floyer, Senior Avalanche Forecaster for Avalanche Canada, said that with the weather expected to clear on Saturday, December 15th, this poses concerns due a very weak layer of snow buried between 60 and 150 cm. Any avalanche triggered on that layer will be life threatening.
Karl Klassen, Warning Services Manager for Avalanche Canada, says the flucuating temperatures and snowfall over the past week present the perfect recipe for an avalanche.
"We've had not a very good start to the season here, so everyone is really eager to get out and enjoy the snow that's been falling here for the last week or so, but that snow has been piling up. Lots of wind, lots of warm temperatures, and those are recipes for avalanches all by themselves," he said.
Avalanche Canada warns everyone, including skiers and snowboarders leaving resorts, to be aware of this hazard, when accessing higher elevation terrain. It is strongly advised that back country users always carry rescue gear, and be educated on how to use it.
Klassen adds it's bes to stay in public areas, where trained professionals can manage the risk and safety of patrons.
"We never tell people to stay out of the mountains. In this case, the primary risk is in the alpine, so above tree line where the snow is deepest and the wind is blowing the hardest. There are some problems around tree line and below tree line, but they are much smaller. Overall, it's a fairly complex situation, and if you don't have training or experience, it's probably a good time to go to the ski area or stay in places where the risk is managed for you by professionals," he said.
The warning applies to the following forecast regions: Lizard Range and Flathead, purcells, Kootenay Boundary, North Rockies, South & North Columbia, Cariboos, Vancouver Island, Sea-to-Sky, South Coast, South Coast Inland and Northwest Coastal.
A detailed map of the areas included in the warning can be found here: https://res.cloudinary.com/avalanche-ca/image/upload/v1544740210/spaw/spaw20181213_2.png