Avalanche Canada has taken the rare step of issuing an avalanche warning for each forecast region—including the Sea to Sky—across Western Canada.
Issued in partnership with Parks Canada and Alberta’s Kananaskis Country, the Special Public Avalanche Warning is being released with “significant warming” in the forecast for both B.C. and Alberta this week. This “dramatic temperature increase” raises the likelihood of avalanches in mountainous regions and coincides with B.C.’s Spring Break, which is expected to bring more people to the backcountry, according to Avalanche Canada.
Temperatures are forecast to hit a high of 15 Celsius in Whistler this week.
"This is the first big warming to hit our snowpack, which is still fairly complex and winter-like,” said senior avalanche forecaster Grant Helgeson in a release. “Any time the snowpack is hit with a big change, it tends to de-stabilize. The temperatures are forecast to increase substantially this week, with no nighttime cooling. This will weaken the snowpack on all aspects, increasing the possibility of large natural avalanches as well making it easier for the weight of a person to trigger deeper weak layers.”
Backcountry users, including those going outside of ski-area boundaries, are urged to carry essential rescue gear, such as a transceiver, probe and shovel.
“Ensure your party re-groups well away from avalanche slopes, including overhead hazard such as cornices,” the warning states.
The public can keep up to date with the avalanche forecast for their region at avalanche.ca. The current danger rating for the Sea to Sky sits at 3, which denotes a “Considerable” avalanche risk in the alpine, treeline and below treeline.
For more backcountry safety tips, visit adventuresmart.ca.