The Special Public Avalanche Warning issued Thursday will be in effect through Monday and applies to most of the province. /AVALANCHE CANADA

By Abigail Popple, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, RMG

Avalanche Canada, alongside Parks Canada and the Province of BC, has issued a Special Public Avalanche Warning for most of the province. The warning is in effect immediately and will continue through the end of Monday, March 4th.

Avalanche Canada encourages recreational backcountry users to be cautious in their terrain choices while the warning is in effect. 

“A good way to do this is by sticking to lower angle slopes, avoiding overhead hazard, and choosing smaller objectives that minimize the consequences of an avalanche,” says the Avalanche Canada website.

Alpine areas in Valemount, McBride, and surrounding areas are currently ranked a category four out of five on the North American Public Avalanche Danger Scale. That is, these areas have “very dangerous avalanche conditions” – meaning human-triggered avalanches are very likely, according to Avalanche Canada.

Areas at and below the treeline are a category three out of five: still dangerous conditions, with human-triggered avalanches likely. Avalanche Canada forecasts that these dangerous conditions will persist through Sunday.

This special warning is prompted by the recent storms which have deposited large amounts of snow throughout Western Canada, said an Avalanche Canada press release. The new snow deposits sit on top of weaker layers of snow from early February, increasing the likelihood of human-caused avalanches, according to the release.

These weaker layers are highly problematic, according to Avalanche Canada Forecaster Tyson Rettie.

“This has been the biggest storm of the season, and we know backcountry users are eager to enjoy the snow,” adds Rettie. “But it’s vital to not underestimate the instability of these weak layers. Any avalanche triggered on them could be deadly.”

Bowinn Ma, BC’s Minister of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness, urges backcountry users to follow the guidance of Avalanche Canada.

Avalanche Canada reminds backcountry users to always check the avalanche forecast at, and for everyone in a backcountry party to bring and know how to operate essential rescue gear: a transceiver, probe, and shovel.