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Avalanche hazard in BC closes highways, prompts special warning

Last Updated Feb 8, 2018 at 3:19 pm PDT

(iStock Photo)

Avalanche Canada issues special public warning for recreational users in the Interior

Unstable weather, snowpacks could trigger a slide: avalanche agency

KELOWNA (NEWS 1130) – A massive dump of snow in parts of the Interior has shut down several highways and prompted a special avalanche warning for those thinking about travelling in the backcountry.

The roadways have been closed because of the high avalanche threat above the route, including Highway 1 from Golden to the Alberta border, with the possibility that it may not be open again until Friday afternoon.

Avalanche Canada has issued a special public warning to recreational backcountry users for the Interior BC mountain ranges.

The weight of snow from weeks of constant storms has triggered many large avalanches in recent days, and while those are becoming more sporadic, the agency warns a change in the weather poses a greater danger.

“The decrease in natural avalanches coupled with improved weather and the long weekend is a classic situation where skiers and snowmobilers venture into more aggressive terrain where they might trigger avalanches themselves or be struck from above,” says Mark Bender, a senior avalanche forecaster for Avalanche Canada. “People might be surprised by how large an avalanche can be triggered and how far it could run.”

Bender adds while danger ratings may drop, the hazard exists and people travelling in the backcountry in the next few days will require expert-level skills to avoid dangerous terrain.

This warning comes just a few days following a similar message closer to home from North Shore Rescue which says it’s still catching people hiking the backcountry wearing just jeans, runners and a hoodie.

Team Leader Mike Danks says the weather on the North Shore mountains may be tough to gauge for some, especially if you’re inexperienced and suggests if you don’t know what you’re doing or aren’t equipped — stay home.