Special warning to watch for treeline avalanches in B.C. backcountry

Senior avalanche forecaster Grant Helgeson says it means that trees are not the safe haven they normally are

Avalanche Canada has issued a special warning for backcountry users of British Columbia’s Interior mountain ranges through to the end of Sunday.

The warning covers the ranges from the North Rockies near Hudson’s Hope to the South Rockies on Canada’s border with the U.S., and includes the Cariboos, North and South Columbia, Glacier National Park, Purcells and the Lizard Range.

The forecasting agency says the trouble is a weak layer of snow at lower elevations, making the snowpack at the treeline more dangerous than in the alpine.

The agency says it’s concerned the unusual situation may catch some users off guard and many close calls have been reported in the past few days.

READ MORE: Much of B.C. seeing snow, -40 C wind chills

Senior avalanche forecaster Grant Helgeson says it means that trees are not the safe haven they normally are and identifying avalanche terrain in the lower elevations can be difficult.

The warning says people will need to be aware of smaller slopes, cutblocks, gullies and even just openings in the trees that are primed for human-triggered avalanches.

The Canadian Press

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