'Buried weak layer' of snow prompts special warning from Avalanche Canada
VANCOUVER -- The South Coast mountains are under a special warning: an avalanche could trigger at any moment.
The warning comes from forecasters at Avalanche Canada.
“There’s a buried weak layer that has the ability to produce big avalanches,” said Simon Horton, a forecaster with the organization, “there’s been several reports of natural avalanches in the last few storms.”
This is not the weekend to tour out of bounds, Horton said, reminding people that anywhere without avalanche control, is considered the backcountry. For those determined to go anyway, Horton offered some advice.
“It’s critical if you’re traveling in the back country to have avalanche training, have the essential equipment and check the forecast,” he said.
CTV News Vancouver caught up with a few snowshoers, heading out on the North Shore trails, all were aware of the risks.
“We snowshoed up to Dog Mountain,” said Theresa Riley, born and raised in North Vancouver.
"We’re aware that there are some avalanche conditions, so we were well prepared.”
Dog Mountain is considered a backcountry area by the nearby Mt. Seymour Resort.
She took her friend who had never been snowshoeing, and unloaded a large bag with all the essentials and more.
“I’ve got a saw, a fire starter, a pot, ramen noodles, bar of chocolate, emergency blanket, we also carried some water and snacks,” Riley said.
May Jung, who has lived at the base of Mount Seymour for the last four decades, said she kept her own snowshoe trek short due to the conditions.
“Snow was terrific,” said Jung, “we just went up First Peak just because the visibility is bad and being careful about avalanches this weekend.”
CTV News spoke with North Shore Rescue search manager, Doug Pope who, after a busy week of rescues, was urging people to follow the advice provided by Avalanche Canada.
“Back country skiers and snow showers, this isn’t the weekend to really do any large objectives in the back country,” he said, “staying in simple, low angle supported slopes and if you don’t know what that means you shouldn’t be out there.”
North Shore Rescue had a busy week. On Tuesday they rescued a snowboarder who went out of bounds, and triggered an avalanche. He ended up partially buried, but fortunately could call a friend and he was taken to hospital.
On Friday night two 16-year-old snowboarders also went out of bounds, and put themselves in a very dangerous situation, if the snow above them had given way.
“We have a crust now buried with new storm snow about 50 centimetres down, and it’s light snow, not bounded to that crust,” said Pope, “that can trigger avalanches very easily.”
He echoed Avalanche Canada’s message that this weekend is not the time to head out of bounds. Rather enjoy the resorts where Avalanche danger is controlled.
Avalanche Canada said there is more snow on the way so the special warning is in place until at least Monday, when it will reassess.