Helicopter crews to blast Coquihalla snow
The Coquihalla Highway will remain closed Sunday as crews in helicopters attempt to blast the snow from dangerous avalanche chutes onto the highway.
Afterwards, the crews will clear the snow, the result of a series of storms over the last few days that has dumped as much as two meters in some areas of B.C.'s Interior.
"It will be a massive amount of snow," said Jeff Knight, a ministry of transportation spokesman.
"So our message to motorists is the same: the highway is closed indefinitely. Crews are doing their best to open it as early as we can," he said.
Somewhere around 10 different sites will be targeted in the area of the Great Bear Snowshed, where an avalanche came down on Thursday morning.
That high avalanche potential was the main reason officials shut down the Coquihalla Highway, a major artery connecting the Lower Mainland to the B.C. Interior.
The toll highway is the most direct route into the B.C. Interior and is often preferred by truckers moving goods into the rest of B.C. or to the other provinces.
Officials are advising motorists to take alternate routes through the province, such as Highway 1 through the Fraser Canyon, Highway 3 through Princeton, or Highway 5A.
Anna Brown, a forecaster with the Canadian Avalanche Centre, said Saturday the increased load of snow, along with wind and warming temperatures, is a recipe for major avalanches.
"The storms have put huge amounts of snow high up in the alpine...that provides for rather large, destructive avalanches.'' Brown said.
The types of avalanches Brown describes would cover a pickup truck or push a train engine off the tracks.
Officials are also telling back country travellers to avoid avalanche terrain.