Slippery slopes: Avalanche warnings in BC ease, but more snow is coming to the Lower Mainland

Kareem Gouda / January 8th, 2019

Extreme avalanche warnings mean avalanches are a certainty in the affected areas and urge all to remain out of the back country.
(Brad White / Avalanche Canada)

Over the weekend avalanche warnings peaked and even triggered a formal response from Parks Canada due to the highly dangerous conditions. The extreme danger rating covered Banff, Yoho, Kootenay and Jasper national parks.

This highest warning was issued by Avalanche Canada after 70 centimeters of snow fell over the affected regions. Made all the more extreme is that the snow fell on a weak pack back in mid-December leading to increased instability.

The extreme danger relates to the Avalanche Canada scale from 1 to 5 with 5 being the most dangerous due to the following warnings:

  1. Avoid all avalanche terrain.
  2. Natural and human-triggered avalanches certain.
  3. Large to very large avalanches in many areas.

“If anybody is coming into the back country they should have proper training and be equipped with a transceiver, probe and shovel. Everyone in your party needs them and has to know how to use them.” – Mary Clayton, Communications Director, Avalanche Canada

Cold, Hard Facts

According to ICBC police data motor vehicle crashes increase during winter months:

  • In BC, the average number of crashes in which someone is killed or injured due to driving too fast for the conditions doubles from fall to early winter – from 123 in October to 246 in December.

According to WorkSafeBC:

  • The winter months of November, December, and January are a particularly dangerous time for people who drive for work, with nearly 28 per cent of all work-related crashes resulting in injury and time loss claims occurring during these months.

Beware the slopes

Even being well trained and equipped cannot completely remove the risks that come with mountain activities.

Last Thursday, a Squamish man was killed near Pebble Creek which is in the vicinity of Pemberton. According to Whistler RCMP, the man and his party were properly equipped and trained but he became caught in a landslide and couldn’t be revived.

Brace for snow on roads

A weather alert has been issued for parts of the Lower Mainland. The Howe Sound and the Sea to Sky Highway from Squamish to Whistler can expect 20 centimeters of snow.

The snow should begin to fall this afternoon with the majority of snow falling over tonight. The snow will be accompanied by strong winds so driving visibility will be reduced considerably.

Wednesday should see the snow turn to rain but conditions could still be treacherous.

While Avalanche Canada reports across the country, most of the focus is on B.C due to the The Coastal and Rocky Mountains. ( Source: Avalanche Canada)

20 cm of snow is expected to fall Tuesday night across the Lower Mainland and around the Sea to Sky highway.
(Source / Pixabay)

Dangers of Winter Driving in BC

It is now the dead of winter, which also puts us in the middle of the winter driving season in BC. This season runs from October 31st to March 31st.

With local snow to be expected, this may be the push drivers need to think more about winter tires and adjusting driving behaviors.

ShiftIntoWinter.ca is encouraging people to adopt a more winter conscious driving style.