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Avalanche Canada issues special avalanche warning for BC and Alberta

Avalanche Canada and the BC government have issued a special public avalanche warning, effective Feb. 29 to Mar. 4 for recreational backcountry users.

Right now, in the Kootenay Boundary, Avalanche Canada has listed the avalanche risk as dangerous, with a four out of five rating.

Avalanche Canada said in a statement that recent storms have deposited a significant amount of snow across most of BC and Alberta’s forecast region.

The new snowfall has created a high risk of human-triggered avalanches as it sits on weaker layers previously established during February’s drought-like conditions, with some areas having more than one weak layer.

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In the Kootenay region, up to 60 cm of snow will have fallen by mid-day Thursday. Avalanche Canada said the new snow will form touchy snow slabs, with the crusts formed in early February now buried 40-80 cm. As a result, facets have developed above the crust, producing many concerning avalanches.

Recreationists are strongly recommended not to underestimate the instability of the weak layers or their potential to produce large avalanches, adding that conservative terrain choices are a critical strategy for backcountry users over the next few days.

Backcountry users are advised to stick to lower-angle slopes, avoid overhead hazards, and stick to smaller objectives to minimize the consequences of an avalanche. It’s also critical to be equipped with proper rescue equipment—transceiver, probe, and shovel—and know how to use it.

On Wednesday, Red Mountain Resort in Rossland issued a statement on social media warning guests to use extra caution when using the resort and to avoid off-piste skiing until a layer of ice lying across the mountain subsides.

“While the storm we’ve been waiting for has arrived, with 11 cm overnight, an update has come in that the storm has also brought in some thick ice crust with heavy winds across the resort. Please ski with extra care,” stated Red Mountain in an Instagram post.

Whitewater Ski Resort in Nelson also took to its social media on Thursday warning guests of the avalanche rating in the region, asking resort users to ensure they’re respecting inbounds avalanche closures.

The warning will be in effect until the end of the day Monday. Avalanche Canada’s danger ratings predict the risk to slowly subside throughout the weekend, with a level three risk anticipated for Friday and Saturday before lowering to a level two moderate by Saturday night.

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