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VICTORIA, B.C. — The District of Chetwynd has been included in an area Avalanche Canada says is at a “considerable” risk for avalanche activity.

The provincial government is urging the public to exercise extreme caution due to “high” or “considerable” avalanche risks forecasted across many areas of B.C.

According to Bowinn Ma, the Minister of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness, avalanches have already killed five people in the province this season.

(Avalanche Canada)

“Avalanche Canada continues to forecast dangerous snowpack, and we’re urging everyone to exercise heightened levels of caution and vigilance in the backcountry this season,” said Ma.

“This year’s snowpack is being compared to 2003, which was one of the worst years for avalanche fatalities.”

Additionally, approximately 73 per cent of Canadian avalanche fatalities have been in British Columbia over the last decade.

Avalanche Canada’s website can be checked for forecasts and conditions.

Ryan Buhler, a forecast supervisor with Avalanche Canada, explained that it is harder to see the clues of instability due to how deep the snow is.

“However, despite the lack of obvious clues, there is serious potential for large, human-triggered avalanches,” said Buhler.

“We urge backcountry users to exercise caution and make conservative, low-consequence choices if they decide to travel in avalanche terrain.”

Avalanche Canada expects these conditions to last the remainder of the winter in some areas.

In 2021, the provincial government provided a $10-million grant to assist Avalanche Canada with the funding required to continue working to keep British Columbians safe.

Avalanche Canada’s advice for backcountry users:

  • Avoid steep, shallow, and rocky terrain features.
  • Everyone in the party needs essential gear, such as a transceiver, shovel and probe, and equipment training.
  • Adopt a cautious mindset when in avalanche terrain.
  • Be diligent about terrain choices. Stick to slope angles of less than 30 degrees when in clearings, open trees, and alpine terrain can help minimize risk.
  • Ensure each group member is engaged in terrain selection.
  • Minimize exposure to overhead hazards.
  • Travel one at a time when exposed to avalanche terrain and regroup in safe spots away from overhead hazards.
  • Avoid exposure to terrain traps, such as gullies, cliffs, and trees, to reduce the risk of being caught in an avalanche.
  • Practice patience, avoid complacency, and accept that these risks may need to be managed for weeks or months to come.

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Shailynn Foster

Shailynn Foster is a news reporter for energeticcity.ca. Shailynn has been writing since she was 7 years old, but only recently started her journey as a journalist. Shailynn was born and raised in Fort St. John and she watches way too much YouTube, Netflix and Disney+ during the week while playing DND on the weekends.