Account Login/Registration

Access KamloopsBCNow using your Facebook account, or by entering your information below.




Privacy Policy

'Highly unusual, unpredictable snowpack': Avalanche Canada, province ask people to remain vigilant

After two people died in an avalanche near Revelstoke on Monday, bringing the provincial total up to five deaths, the government and Avalanche Canada have issued a formal warning.

Most of eastern BC is seeing a rank three or four avalanche danger rating, which means there are very dangerous or dangerous conditions in many of the mountainous areas.

Avalanche Canada says it is monitoring a deep, persistent slab avalanche problem in many regions.

The Ministry of Emergency Management says this year's snowpack is being compared to the conditions recorded in 2003, which was one of the worst years for avalanche fatalities in BC.

“This is a highly unusual and unpredictable snowpack,” says Ryan Buhler, forecast supervisor for Avalanche Canada.

“The complication with this snowpack setup is that the layers are deep enough that we are less likely to see clues of instability, like nearby avalanche activity, ‘whumpfing’ or cracking snow.”

Despite the lack of normal clues that an avalanche is about to begin, there is still a potential for large, human-trigger slides to happen, explains Buhler.

British Columbians are urged to remain vigilant and be extremely cautious when heading out into the backcountry.

In the past decade, about 73% of Canadian avalanche fatalities have happened in BC.

<who> Photo Credit: Avalanche Canada </who> Most of eastern BC is seeing a rank three or four avalanche danger rating.

Timeline of avalanche danger, five deaths

On Jan. 5, Avalanche Canada warned of an unstable snowpack in parts of the province.

Four days later, two Nelson police officers were caught in a slide near Kaslo. Cst. Wade Tittemore, 43, died at the scene.

Twelve days later, on Jan. 21, his 28-year-old colleague Cst. Mathieu Nolet died at Kelowna General Hospital due to injuries sustained in the incident.

A snowmobiler was caught in an avalanche near Valemount on Saturday and died shortly after.

On Monday, Jan. 23, three people were caught in a slide near Revelstoke. Two skiers died and another remains in serious condition in the hospital.

A mere nine minutes later on the same day, another person was caught in a different slide near Cherryville. No details have been provided on their condition at this time.

Advice from Avalanche Canada

Residents are reminded to check the avalanche conditions and carry the necessary equipment including a transceiver, probe and shovel.

The province says all people heading out into avalanche terrain should have the necessary training to respond in the face of a slide.

Avalanche Canada forecasters expect these conditions to last for the remainder of the winter in those areas with mountainous terrain.

The organization says people should avoid steep, shallow and rocky areas, stick to slope angles less than 30 degrees, follow a disciplined group plan, keep an eye on areas above them and travel one at a time when exposed to avalanche areas.

Send your comments, news tips, typos, letter to the editor, photos and videos to [email protected].

webcam icon






current feed webcam icon

Top Stories

Follow Us

Follow us on Instagram Follow us on Twitter Like us on Facebook Follow us on Linkedin
Follow Our Newsletter
Privacy Policy