Days after skier dies, special avalanche warning issued for BC Interior ranges

Fernie SAR in operation. Fernie Free Press file

Areas under the avalanche warning include the Cariboos, the North and South Columbia regions, and the Kootenay Boundary.

Parks Canada and Avalanche Canada have issued a special advisory indicating the snowpack will be unstable until at least Monday night.

According to Avalanche Canada's Forecasting Program Supervisor, James Floyer, recent snowstorms have buried a number of weak layers in the snowpack, causing instability.

James Floyer, forecasting program supervisor for Avalanche Canada, says the warmer conditions expected on the weekend will make things even more risky.

"Those risky avalanche conditions have evolved after a weak layer developed in mid-December, and gradually we've been seeing the snow amounts increase on that weak layer and we've really reached a tipping point at this time".

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The agency said many have been in areas normally considered fairly safe. "The warmer temperatures forecast for the coming weekend will definitely increase the chances of triggering an avalanche".

In January last year, five Alberta men died in an avalanche while snowmobiling near McBride, B.C. The deadliest avalanche in the province, however, was in 1991 in B.C.'s Purcell range, when nine heli-skiers died in a massive slide near Golden, B.C. And this year marks the 10th anniversary of a Fernie, B.C. avalanche that killed eight snowmobilers.

"Those are quite unusual conditions and then they're quite risky for people to manage, and so unless people have professional level training and safety systems in place, we really are recommending that people avoid avalanche terrain at this time", said Floyer. "If you don't have the training to recognize them, please avoid the backcountry or hire a professional guide".

Avalanche Canada map shows high danger ratings in B.C. mountains.

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