Avalanche danger rating approaches highest level on Vancouver Island

Avalanche danger rating approaches highest level on Vancouver Island
Avalanche Canada
Avalanche Canada displaying the heightened risk of Avalanches on Vancouver Island

Think twice before heading into the backcountry this weekend.

That’s the message from Avalanche Canada, which has set Vancouver Island’s avalanche danger rating at level four, just below the highest rating there is.

According to one analyst, the current risk of avalanches in the region is about as high as it typically gets and it’s not a matter of when one will occur — but where.

“There’s a bit of uncertainty where we’re going to see rain, and where we’re going to see snow…But it looks like we’re getting really heavy snowfall in the alpine and that’s what’s leading to [the] high danger rating you’re seeing,” said Colin Garritty, a forecaster with Avalanche Canada.

As freezing levels drop Islanders are going to see rain turning to snow at some higher elevations.

“That snow that’s leftover after the storm is basically what’s going to produce avalanches going into the weekend,” said Garritty.

RELATED: Weather warnings, flood watch issued for parts of Vancouver Island

When dry snow accumulates on top of wet snow, the chance of the bottom layer fracturing greatly increases. This is what Garritty refers to as a ‘slab avalanche.’

“A slab avalanche involves cracking snow that propagates a crack out across a slope and involves a lot of moving snow. Much more consequential,” he said. 

“If you [don’t] get out while it’s raining on Vancouver Island, you might never get out.”

“If folks are motivated enough to head out there in these kinds of conditions, they [should be] aware that this is about the most active avalanche conditions that the Island sees.”

More information on avalanche safety and current conditions can be found on Avalanche Canada’s website.

Roger CollinsRoger Collins

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