A special public avalanche warning has been issued for all mountains in western Canada, including the Lizard Range and Flathead near Fernie.
It comes ahead of more warm weather, with temperatures in the Elk Valley expected to reach 17C by Saturday, and as backcountry use increases during B.C.’s spring break.
Avalanche Canada said this dramatic temperature increase will increase the likelihood of avalanches throughout the mountains.
“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 an Avalanche Canada release issued Monday.
“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.”
The warning applies to all forecast regions in western Canada and is effective immediately.
In the Lizard Range and Flathead area, the avalanche danger is expected to remain high in the alpine and treeline from Monday through to Wednesday.
Travel in avalanche terrain is not recommended in these very dangerous conditions.
Below treeline, there is considerable danger, requiring careful snowpack evaluation, cautious route finding and conservative decision-making.
Avalanche Canada, Parks Canada and Kananaskis Country warns all backcountry users, including those going outside ski area boundaries, to keep careful track of their regional avalanche forecasts at Avalanche.ca.
Everyone in a backcountry party needs the essential rescue gear—transceiver, probe and shovel—and the knowledge to use it. Ensure your party re-groups well away from avalanche slopes, including overhead hazard such as cornices.
Those heading to the mountains to snowshoe or explore the front country should also be aware that many popular summer trails are exposed to avalanche terrain. Plan ahead and research your route to make sure you are avoiding these areas.