Canadian Avalanche Centre

Special Public Avalanche Warning

TO ALL CLUB MEMBERS:

 

The CAC has issued a Special Public Avalanche Warning for Most of BC’s Mountainous Regions

 You can view the SPAW here

 

Canadian Avalanche Centre warns of

significant potential for large,

destructive avalanches in forecast regions

 

Feb 20, 2014, Revelstoke, BC: The Canadian Avalanche Centre (CAC) is issuing a special public avalanche warning for recreational backcountry users in all of the CAC’s forecast regions, except the North Shore Mountains and the Yukon. This warning is in effect immediately and extends to the end of the day on Wednesday, February 26.

 

The problem is a result of the extended dry period of late January and early February, explains Karl Klassen, Manager of the CAC’s Public Avalanche Warning Service. “That long drought left the surface of the snowpack in very bad shape,” says Klassen. “Now the new snow is sitting on one of the worst weak layers we’ve seen in a few years. That weakness is currently anywhere between one and two metres deep so when it’s triggered, the resulting avalanches are very large.”

 

The problem layer is widespread and with a weather forecast calling for clearing skies, the CAC is urging recreational backcountry users to be very conservative in their terrain choices. “There’s a lot of pent-up demand for powder after that dry spell but this weak layer is going to be a problem for the foreseeable future,” says Klassen. “Staying safe will require patience and discipline as long as this layer is in play.” The weak layer will likely persist after this warning expires and recreationists are urged to stay cautious in avalanche terrain.

 

Everyone in a backcountry party needs to carry an avalanche transceiver, probe and shovel and be well-practiced with their rescue skills. The CAC strongly recommends that backcountry users take an Avalanche Skills Training course, and check the avalanche bulletin regularly to keep informed of conditions in their area.

 

More detailed information is also available on the CAC blogs and forecasts at www.avalanche.ca/cac.

 

For more information

Mary Clayton, CAC Communications Director

Office: 250.837.2141 (228)

Mobile: 250.837.1492

Special Public Avalanche Warning

Special Public Avalanche Warning for Most BC Avalanche Regions

Recreational backcountry users urged to exercise extra caution this coming weekend

January 16, 2014, Revelstoke, BC: The Canadian Avalanche Centre (CAC) is issuing a special public avalanche warning for most regions of British Columbia including the Northwest Inland, South Coast Inland, Sea to Sky, North Rockies, Cariboos, North Columbia, South Columbia, Purcells, Kootenay Boundary, Lizard Range, and South Rockies. This warning applies to recreational backcountry users and is in effect from Friday, January 17 to Monday, January 20.

Backcountry Avalanche Workshop

BAW northern tour 2013all

 

Special Public Avanlanche Warning!

Special Public Avalanche Warning for BC’s Interior Mountains

Fourth warning in five weeks for recreational backcountry users

March 23, 2012, Revelstoke, BC:

For the first weekend of spring, the Canadian Avalanche Centre (CAC) is issuing its fourth Special Public Avalanche Warning in five weeks. The warning area includes the South Coast Inland, the North and South Columbias, the Cariboos, the Purcells, the South Rockies, the Lizard Range and the Kootenay Boundary region. This warning is in effect from Saturday March 24 through to Monday, March 26.
“Our main concern is the same weak layer we have been tracking for the past month,” says Ilya Storm, Forecast Coordinator for the CAC’s Public Avalanche Warning Service. “Over the past few days, we have received numerous reports of very large avalanches and near-misses throughout the areas affected by the warning. We’re hearing about people with lots of experience who were surprised by avalanches, sometimes triggered from a significant distance,” explains Storm. “What’s significant is that in many of these cases, the terrain was relatively simple. That tells us this weak layer is primed for triggering.”
Adding to the situation, the weekend forecast is for clear skies and sunshine in the regions covered by the warning. “The sun is going to entice backcountry users in the alpine, but at the same time it will have a destabilizing effect on the snowpack,” explains Storm. “With the current volatility of that layer, this is a potentially deadly combination.”
The CAC has posted a “conditions alert” on their YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/user/CanadianAvalancheCtr
The CAC advises all recreational backcountry users to make consistently cautious decisions and to avoid avalanche terrain in the areas targeted by the special warning. All members of a backcountry party must be equipped with a shovel, probe and transceiver. The CAC strongly recommends all backcountry users take an Avalanche Skills Training course. Snowpack stability changes constantly through the winter and spring. Backcountry users need to check the avalanche forecasts regularly to keep informed of conditions in their area. More detailed information is also available on the CAC Forecaster’s Blog. For the forecasts, blog and information on training check www.avalanche.ca/cac.

For more information
Mary Clayton, CAC Communications Director
Office: 250.837-2141 (228)
Mobile: 250-837-1492

More Avalanche Warnings

Special Public Avalanche Warning for Columbia Mountains, South Rockies and South Coast Inland Range

March 9, 2012, Revelstoke, BC: The Canadian Avalanche Centre (CAC) is issuing a Special Public Avalanche Warning for recreational backcountry users. The warning includes the mountains of the South Coast Inland, the Columbia Mountains from near Prince George in the north to the US border in the south, and BC’s South Rockies. The warning is in effect this weekend, Saturday March 10 and Sunday March 11, 2012.

“We have a variety of issues within the snowpack right now that cause us two main concerns,” explains Ilya Storm, the CAC’s Public Avalanche Warning Services Coordinator. “The first is that the size of avalanches is likely to be much bigger than might be expected, and could be triggered remotely, which means triggered at a distance or from the bottom of the slope. Our other main concern is that slopes generally considered safer—lower angle, below treeline—are primed for human triggering.”
Local knowledge and a high degree of training and experience are required to travel safely in avalanche terrain this weekend, adds Storm. “Knowing the slope history is key to good decisions right now. And make sure you park in safe spots—well to the side of any avalanche path or far away from the runout zone. Given the size of recent avalanches, the bottom of runout zones this weekend might be father than you think.”

The CAC is advising all recreational backcountry users to carefully monitor avalanche bulletins. Everyone in a backcountry party needs to be equipped with a shovel, probe and transceiver and the CAC strongly recommends all backcountry users take an avalanche awareness course. Snowpack stability changes constantly throughout the winter. Backcountry users need to check the avalanche bulletin regularly to keep informed of conditions in their area. More detailed information is also available on the CAC forecaster’s blog.

For the bulletins, blog and information on training, check www.avalanche.ca/cac.

Important Safety Product Message

Message brought to you by Association of BC Snowmobile Clubs

Avalanche Transceiver vs Spot Beacon

We’re hearing of backcountry users who have made the assumption that a locator beacon (such as a SPOT) can do the same things as an avalanche transceiver. This is not the case and is a very dangerous mistake to make. An avalanche transceiver is a highly specialized device, designed for one purpose—avalanche rescue. A transceiver is one of the essential three pieces of avalanche safety equipment, along with a shovel and probe.

Transceivers

·         Sends and receives an electronic signal to other transceivers

·         In the backcountry, everyone in the group has their transceivers on “send”

·         When a person is buried, companions turn their transceivers to “receive” and home in on the “send” signal from the buried person

SPOT Beacons

·         Sends a signal to a satellite, which notifies a central system based in Texas, which then alerts local RCMP

·         Can also be used to send an “OK” signal, or to summon non-emergency help

·         For more information on features, check findmespot.ca

Five minutes after an avalanche, you’ve got an 80% chance of recovering a buried victim alive.  After 20 minutes, there’s only a 35% chance of a live recovery. If your group is involved in an avalanche, you don’t have time to send a signal to Texas. Make sure everyone you ride with has an avalanche transceiver, and knows how to use it.

For more information on avalanche safety equipment please check avalanche.ca/cac/gear/overview

CAC Special Public Avalanche Warning Notification

Canadian Avalanche Association

The Canadian Avalanche Centre’s Public Avalanche Warning Service is considering issuing a Special Public Avalanche Warning for the coming weekend. We are thinking:

  • There’s been a number of unusual/surprising avalanches that occurred after the storm ended and during the cooling temperatures.
  • Some of these avalanches appear to be going deeper than the storm snow, which suggests a deep persistent slab problem involving persistent weak layers in the snowpack.
  • Some of the PWLs are unusual for the snowpack climate(s) in which they exist and all of them are not obvious to recreationists:
    • Weak basal facets where early season snowpack was shallow, throughout the Columbia Mtns, especially in the Cariboos, east Monashees, and Selkirks
    • November crust (especially in the Purcells)
    • Early December surface which includes suncrust, facets, and surface hoar (especially on South aspects in the east Monashees and Selkirks)
    • Mid December facets on crust in the Kootenay-Boundary and South Rockies regions.
    • Surface hoar in the South Chilcotin mtns, perhaps some lingering surface hoar in the Duffy area of the South Coast Mtns.
  • Riding conditions at lower elevations may not be very attractive due to crusts from rain and/or warm temperatures. This tends to drive recreationists into the alpine, where the likelihood of triggering an avalanche is greater.
  • Long range weather suggests a benign pattern with near seasonal or above seasonal temperatures  in most regions, a series of small, fast-moving systems that produce light accumulations of snow, and winds of variable strength and direction. This will also contribute to promoting riding at higher elevations and in lee areas.
  • With only minimal amounts of new snow and non-obvious problems, we are concerned recreationists may push out into marginal and more complex terrain.
  • We’re worried that we may be entering a low probability-high consequence scenario where non-event feedback hides a significant problem and skews decision making.

I value your opinions, comments, and feedback. My questions to you are: do you think our take on conditions in your area is reasonable? Do you have anything to add to our assessment of conditions and human factors? Do you think the conditions in your area warrant a special warning to the public?

Karl Klassen – Public Avalanche Warning Service Manager

Canadian Avalanche Centre
P.O. Box 2759 | 110 Mackenzie Ave.
Revelstoke, BC Canada | V0E 2S0
kklassen@avalanche.ca | www.avalanche.ca |  Skype: karlklassen
Phone: 250.837.2141 ext. 227 | Mobile: 250.814.3756 | Fax: 250.837.4624