Avalanches are starting as warming trend begins on Vancouver Island

Avalanches are starting as warming trend begins on Vancouver Island

WATCH: A return to spring-like conditions is upon us on Vancouver Island after a week’s long cold snap that saw many communities buried in snow. This week’s forecast is calling for wall to wall sunshine and warmer temperatures but as Skye Ryan reports the drastically changing conditions aren’t without danger.

Warming temperatures and sun created a buzz of activity at French Creek’s marina Sunday. As fishermen like Mark Olafsen jumped aboard their fishing boats to spring clean them, readying for the herring run that’s now just weeks away.

“It’s just the start of everything,” said Mark Olafsen.

“I just love it. It’s just something that you can’t get away from it’s in your blood. Once it’s in there it stays,” said the third generation fisherman.

“Yeah, yeah it feels good to be in the fresh air and smell the sea salt,” said fisherman Shane Gallop.

After weeks of freezing temperatures that brought record snowfall to the coast, signs of spring are now emerging everywhere. From pussy willows to migrating birds including Brant Geese returning.

In the backcountry of Vancouver Island though, the fast-changing conditions from freezing to mild combined with that huge snowfall are creating dangerous conditions and the avalanche risk is high.

“This is actually a bit unusual for Vancouver Island and the south coast,” said Jan Neuspiel of the Island Avalanche Bulletin.

“And its the result of having prolonged periods of very cold air,” said Neuspiel, who also runs Island Alpine Guides.

A special public avalanche warning has been issued for the South coast and Vancouver Island due to the conditions.

“What’s being reported now is people are seeing both natural avalanches occurring, avalanches that fail without any particular load by people being added as well as human triggered avalanches occurring and of course that’s why the ratings are as high as they are right now,” he said.

So outdoor enthusiasts are being urged to check the Island Avalanche Bulletin before heading out and know the danger is real.

“It’s a serious thing,” said David Keay of Robinson’s Outdoor Store in Victoria.

“That people need to be much more educated on before they take on those activities,” he said.

It’s advice that experts hope people take to heart as Vancouver Island wakes from winter, with warming temperatures and a solid week of sunshine ahead.

Skye RyanSkye Ryan

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