Avalanche Canada has issued a Special Public Avalanche Warning (SPAW) for recreational backcountry users in the B.C. interior in a press release on Wednesday, December 28. The warning is effective immediately and will continue until the end of the day Monday, January 2.
In partnership with Parks Canada, Avalanche Canada says the SPAW region includes most of B.C.’s Columbia Mountains, Glacier and Mount Revelstoke National Parks and the Northern Rockies.
The SPAW extends from the southern boundaries of the Purcell Wilderness Conservancy and Kokanee and Valhalla Provincial Parks to Williston Lake north of Pine Pass and Mackenzie. For a map of the SPAW region, click here.
Avalanche Canada says that a prolonged cold and dry start to the winter created several persistent weak layers in the snowpack across the interior ranges of B.C. However, the recent storm and warming temperatures have destabilized weak snowpack, making large, human-triggered avalanches likely.
“The snowpack is currently in a precarious state,” explains Simon Horton, senior forecaster for Avalanche Canada. “The storm cycles that hit western Canada over the past weekend added significant snow on top of an exceptionally weak lower snowpack. This has brought the conditions to a tipping point where dangerous avalanches are likely.”
“While avalanche danger ratings may start to decrease as the weather improves, there will still be a chance of triggering a large avalanche,” adds Horton.
Avalanche Canada recommends making conservative terrain choices if recreating during the SPAW to help manage this risk. Sticking to lower-angle slopes and choosing smaller objectives that minimize the consequences of an avalanche are examples of how to reduce the risk.
Backcountry users should always check the avalanche forecast at www.avalanche.ca.