Mountainous regions of western Canada are under a special public avalanche warning due to a highly unstable snowpack.
The warning has been issued by Avalanche Canada, Parks Canada, Kananaskis Country, and the B.C. government.
Officials said the measure is in place for recreational backcountry users.
“All backcountry users, including hikers and scramblers, and anyone recreating in avalanche terrain are advised to leave a wide margin for error during this warming period, stick to simple, low-angle terrain, and avoid all overhead avalanche hazards,” said officials with Avalanche Canada.
A dramatic increase in temperatures is expected to destabilize the snowpack further, resulting in treacherous, destructive avalanche conditions.
“The sudden transition from cool, wintry conditions in the alpine to warm temperatures will create dangerous avalanche conditions,” said Avalanche Canada officials. “The effect of the warm temperatures on the existing snowpack structure means that these avalanches will likely be very large and may run to valley bottoms.”
Dangerous avalanche conditions exist for most mountainous areas in Western Canada, mostly in B.C., and officials said the risk only increases with each warm temperature day.
“Regions with persistent or deep persistent slab avalanche problems will be especially problematic, with avalanches potentially involving the full depth of the snowpack,” said Avalanche Canada.
The agency said backcountry users should always check conditions before heading out, and those in a travelling party need to have essential rescue gear such as a transceiver, probe, and shovel and the training to use it.
The warning is in effect until at least Monday.