Gateway Gazette

Notice – Special Public Avalanche Warning for Kananaskis

 

Feb. 13 – Feb. 15, 2015
Posted:  February 13, 2015 @ 12:59 PM

Parks Canada and Kananaskis Country, Alberta Parks are issuing a special public avalanche warning for many of the mountain parks in the Rocky Mountains.  This warning is in effect from Friday, February 13th to Sunday, February 15th and includes Banff, Yoho, Kootenay and Jasper National Parks as well as Kananaskis Country.

The snowpack in these areas of the Rockies is complex this year. There is a deep persistent weak layer at the base of the snowpack which has recently been overloaded by snow, wind and nearly a week of abnormally high freezing levels.   Avalanche professionals throughout these areas of the Rockies have seen numerous full depth avalanches sliding to ground on this layer in the last week and running to the end of historical runouts. There have been numerous unusually large natural and explosive triggered avalanches occurring which have led avalanche forecasters to have a low confidence in this year’s snowpack.

Although natural avalanche activity is tapering, conditions remain prime for human triggering.  In spite of forecasted cooling temperatures over the weekend, significant hazard will persist with this season’s complex snowpack structure.   Sunny skies will attract many people to the mountains this weekend, however this weather pattern will be slow to stabilize the snowpack until the beginning of next week.

Parks Canada and Kananaskis Country recommend recreational backcountry users with little or no avalanche training or experience avoid avalanche terrain, or undertake activities in which avalanche risk is managed by professionals. Experienced backcountry recreationists are urged to travel on simple terrain such as small, low angle, well-supported features with no large steep slopes or cornices above. When temperatures are warmest and especially if the sun is out, all avalanche terrain should be avoided, including valley bottom runout zones.

Every person in a backcountry party needs an avalanche transceiver, probe and shovel and everyone should have some training in recognizing avalanche terrain and safe backcountry travel techniques. For more information on the current Kananaskis Country avalanche forecast, visit http://www.avalanche.ca/forecasts/kananaskis and for updates on current avalanche observations or near misses in Kananaskis Country, visit the Kananaskis Public Safety Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/KCPublicSafety

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