In the wake of two avalanche-related fatalities, B.C. backcountry users are being warned to take extra precautions this weekend due to unstable conditions.
Avalanche Canada issued a special warning on February 21 for recreational backcountry users in B.C.’s southern coast region as well as Vancouver Island.
The warning will remain in effect until Sunday (February 24).
Avalanche Canada stated in a news release that a weak layer in the snowpack that is buried about 50 centimetres is of particular concern.
With an additional 10 to 15 centimetres (four to six inches) expected to be added on top, Avalanche Canada states that the weak layer could be easily triggered.
“We do not expect the snow to stabilize after the storm, which is unusual for the coastal mountains,” Avalanche Canada warning program supervisor James Floyer stated in a news release. “Human-triggered avalanches will be likely over the weekend, especially on steeper terrain.”
Two fatalities have occurred this week due to avalanches.
Two snowshoers were caught in an avalanche in the North Shore backcountry near Mount Seymour on February 18. One hiker survived by holding on to a tree but the other was swept away and his body was located on February 20.
As part of an investigation into the avalanche, Avalanche Canada conducted snowpack tests on February 20 (as shown in the video below).
Meanwhile, another avalanche that occurred on February 21 in a closed area near Whistler, triggered by snowboarding activity, resulted in the death of a 42-year-old Australian woman.