Avalanche warning issued over warm weather, and that includes Maple Ridge

And it can happen here, says Ridge Meadows Search and Rescue

Warmer weather is raising the risk of snow slides

Warmer weather is raising the risk of snow slides

Avalanche Canada is warning skiers, hikers and snowmobilers that the while the spring weather is beautiful, it carries with it the hidden danger of avalanches. And that includes local trails in and around Golden Ears Provincial Park.

“We have them here,” said Rick Laing with Ridge Meadows Search and Rescue. Several areas in the mountains above Maple Ridge could be at risk of snow slides.

“If it looks like it might be avalanche terrain, it probably is.”

Snowpacks in the mountains in the Metro Vancouver area are at 99 per cent of capacity, according to the River Forecast Centre.

“Certainly, Panorama Ridge, you can have avalanches rumbling down the side there,” said Laing.

Evans Valley can be risky and hikers should pay attention to the open areas where trails traverse avalanche chutes. “Snowshoe Creek, we have some significant avalanches almost every year.”

Evans Peak and Blanchard Peak are both steep, which prevents some snow buildup.

“That being said, there are certainly areas on those mountains that could see a small avalanche.’

“Some slopes around Alouette Mountain have potential.”

Laing pointed out avalanches don’t have to be large to be dangerous or fatal.

“It’s when you get into the middle (elevation) terrain that snow can build up.”

Avalanche Canada issued a warning for all of B.C. Tuesday that with the warmer temperatures comes an increased avalanche risk.

“We’re expecting this weather to have a big impact on the snowpack,” said Karl Klassen with Avalanche Canada.

“Given that many slopes have yet to see a full-blown warm up, 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.

Warm weather isn’t unusual for this time of year but, clear-sky days “often lead to underestimating hazard and failing to manage risk appropriately.”

Avalanche Canada says that when the morning sun strikes mountain slopes and cornices, backcountry users should move on to terrain that’s safe from avalanches that start high above and run well into lower elevations.

As daytime temperatures rise and the upper layers of the snowpack become moist or wet, people should avoid avalanche terrain completely.

“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,” says Klassen.