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“It’s been colder than average with less snowfall,”: Avalanche Canada on weak snow pack levels in Northern Rockies

Avalanche Canada says backcountry enthusiasts should settle for lower-consequence terrain as temperatures continue to hover around the freezing mark.

The Northern Rockies region, which includes Prince George is under a moderate rating, which means heightened avalanche conditions are possible on specific terrain features.

Forecaster, Tyson Rettie spoke with Vista Radio.

“If I have a slope above me that is 35-plus degrees I would be hesitant to be in that piece of terrain as there is the possibility of triggering slopes above you with a snowpack like this. I would also be very leary of terrain traps under a slope that I am on.”

Rettie added anyone planning outdoor recreation activities needs to be cautious as people skiing or snowmobiling in areas that have higher terrain can get fooled.

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“If we have southerly winds you will more likely have wind slabs on the north-facing slopes and maybe some cross-loading on the west and east-facing slopes. So, the avalanche problem – human-triggered avalanches may be more likely in that scenario.”

“They might be looking at something thinking it’s reasonable to ride based on what they have read in the forecast. The next thing they need to think about is what if they are wrong and what are the consequences if that is a slope that could avalanche. In this case, look for lower-consequence terrain.”

He adds much of the season has been colder than average with less snowfall.

Rettie stated many professionals are comparing this year’s weak snowpack to what we saw in 2003, which was one of the deadliest years for avalanche accidents in BC.

On Monday, a Nelson police officer died and another was seriously injured due to an avalanche near Groat Range Provincial Park in Kaslo.

Avalanche Canada says a very unstable snowpack has increased the risk of slides across much of the province and instability may continue for the rest of the winter.

To see the latest conditions, click here.

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