Avalanche debris. (Photo by Ben Nearingburg)

Avalanche Canada to stop avalanche forecasting early

The organization said decision is due to lack of reliable data and concerns for healthcare system

Avalanche Canada said it will issue its final forecast for the season next week, which is roughly a month earlier than normal.

The agency said in a news release they rely heavily on data from a network of avalanche professionals across western Canada, such as heliskiing lodges and ski resorts, and most have closed due to COVID-19.

As a result, Avalanche Canada said their warning service is no longer receiving enough information to issue accurate forecasts. The last forecast will be March 28.

The organization also said the decision to end forecasting early is also prompted by concerns for the health care system during the pandemic.

“We do not want to provide a service that promotes recreating in mountainous terrain, where there is often significant hazard,” executive director Gilles Valade said.

Parks Canada is closing parking lots in national parks at midnight and is also urging people to stay home.

READ MORE: Parks Canada to close access to trails

READ MORE: Trudeau: More ‘stringent measures’ will come if Canadians ignore COVID-19 guidelines

In addition to ending forecasts, Avalanche Canada said they will also shut down the Mountain Information Network. This online platform allows backcountry users to submit trip reports and observations from the field.

“We do not take these steps lightly,” Valade said.

“But we feel it is essential that we work together and do what we can to avoid putting any extra load on our health care system at this time.”

Avalanche Canada is a non-government, non-for profit organization whose aim is to minimize public avalanche risk in avalanche terrain.

They provide public avalanche forecasts for many of the mountainous regions of western Canada, free of charge. It was formed in 2004 and is based in Revelstoke, B.C.


 

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