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Avalanche conditions very dangerous following series of storms

Avalanche risks are higher than usual on the Sunshine Coast and Vancouver Island after a series of storms deposited significant snow.

As a result, Avalanche Canada has issued a public avalanche warning between today (Thursday) and Mar. 4. They say the new snow is sitting on prominent weak layers created during drought conditions in February and in some places, there is more than one weak layer.

“The structure of the weak layers takes different forms across our forecast regions, but is highly problematic and reactive in all,” said Avalanche Canada in the warning.

“Remote triggering of avalanches on this layer will be possible. Recreationists should not underestimate the instability of these weak layers or their potential to produce large avalanches.”

Widespread natural avalanche activity will slow, but human-triggered avalanches will remain likely.

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They say that while new snow is appealing, making conservative terrain choices will be an important strategy for everyone. This means staying on lower-angle slopes, avoiding overhead hazards and choosing smaller objectives.

On Vancouver Island, the risk is ‘considerable’, and they warn you to have conservative decision-making. They add the storm snow and wind are creating “touchy” slabs in the area, and between 50 and 100 cm of snow is expected by Thursday afternoon.

The Sunshine Coast, meanwhile, has a ‘high’ risk rating, and you are advised to avoid all avalanche terrain.

“Multiple weak layers exist in the upper and mid-snowpack,” said Avalanche Canada. “The most concerning weak layer is found down 30 to 100 cm and is composed of a layer of facets or in isolated areas preserved surface hoar about a thick crust.

“This layer is the culprit of recent remotely triggered avalanches in low-angle terrain.”

They ask you to always check the avalanche forecast, and everyone in a backcountry party needs the essential rescue gear – transceiver, probe and shovel – and the necessary training.

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