Avalanche Canada has issued an avalanche warning for western Canada, including the Yukon, thanks to record high temperatures expected this week.
The warning extends from the Yukon to the U.S. border, and from the Pacific coast to the Rocky Mountains. It will be in effect until April 1, when the organization will reassess conditions.
“We’re expecting this weather to have a big impact on the snowpack,” said warning service manager Karl Klassen in a news release. “We are predicting a widespread and varied array of avalanche problems this week including cornice failures, surface-layer avalanches, and failure on deeper persistent weak layers.”
Klassen said clear skies can often cause people to underestimate risks.
Avalanche Canada is recommending that backcountry users move into areas that are safe from avalanches once the morning sun hits alpine slopes and cornices. As temperatures rise throughout the day and the snow becomes wet, they should avoid avalanche terrain entirely.
“Starting trips in the morning when it’s still cold and before the sun rises, with the goal of being out of avalanche terrain by early afternoon at the latest, is a good risk management strategy,” Klassen said in the release. The organization says that everyone in the backcountry needs to have an avalanche transceiver, probe and shovel. It also recommends a two-day avalanche course as a minimum level of training.
Environment Canada is predicting that temperatures in Whitehorse will hit 15 degrees this week, well above the average seasonal maximum of three degrees.
Current avalanche conditions can be found at www.avalanche.ca.