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Sea to Sky among several areas with special avalanche warning in effect

Delays expected Friday on Highway 99 north of Pemberton with avalanche control work planned

Avalanche Canada and Parks Canada have issued a special public avalanche warning for the Sea to Sky, one of several areas across B.C. and Alberta where the warning is in effect.

“Our main concern is a critical weak layer buried about 60 cm below the snow surface throughout these regions,” explained James Floyer, forecasting program supervisor for Avalanche Canada, in a release. “This layer is deep enough to produce large avalanches, yet shallow enough to be triggered by a human or machine. The forecast of warm temperatures and sun will contribute to this problem this weekend.”

Avalanche Canada said the weak layer is “most active at treeline elevation, where the forest opens up and gives way to the alpine and many good riding options exist.” Backcountry users are urged to stick to simple terrain and avoid grouping up in places threatened by potential slides from above.

“Under the current conditions, sparsely treed slopes do not provide protection from avalanches and could be even more dangerous due to the risk of being swept into trees,” Floyer added. “Lower angled slopes or densely forested areas, where the tree canopies are touching, will be better choices as long as they are not threatened by steep slopes from above.”

Avalanche control work is also slated for Friday, Feb. 11 on Highway 99 north of Pemberton, from Lil’wat Place to Seton Lake Road, starting at 12:30 p.m. and concluding at 2:30 p.m. Expect delays.

Everyone in the backcountry should be equipped with essential rescue gear, including a transceiver, probe and shovel, and should know how to use it, the release went on.

Applying through the end of Sunday, Feb. 13, this special warning is in effect immediately in the Sea to Sky, South Coast Inland, Cariboos, North and South Columbias, Kootenay-Boundary, Purcells, and Jasper and Glacier National Parks forecast regions.

Tragedy struck the Sea to Sky last weekend after one person died and three others were injured in a series of avalanches throughout the corridor.

Those heading out into the backcountry can check their regional avalanche forecast at avalanche.ca.