POLITICS

Sunny skies hide lurking snow slide danger this weekend: avalanche centre

03/15/2012 06:35 EDT | Updated 05/15/2012 05:12 EDT
REVELSTROKE, C.-B. - Large and destructive avalanches are predicted to come tumbling down British Columbia mountains this weekend, prompting a special warning from the forecasting centre.

Karl Klassen, with the Canadian Avalanche Centre, advised backcountry users on Thusday to be "disciplined" and make conservative terrain choices, although he suggested its best to stay off the slopes altogether.

The warning is the third of its kind in four weeks and comes only days after a string of avalanches killed three people in separate incidents, pushing this season's fatalities to eight.

A recent bout of stormy weather has dumped fresh snow atop a weak snowpack, and as those blizzards subside and sun emerges Klassen said he fears skiers and snowmobilers may not recognize the danger.

"We just need to let all this new snow settle down for several days," he said from Revelstoke, B.C.

"Exactly when you think it's going to be the greatest day in the world — nice blue skies and sunny — is when you need to be the most careful."

The bulletin stands from Friday through Monday. It covers all the Interior B.C. mountains, from Mackenzie and Chetwynd south to the U.S. border, and west of the Alberta border to Pemberton and Hope.

On Sunday, a 33-year-old Calgary man who RCMP described as having years of skiing experience was killed when he was buried in the Ghost Peak area, south of Revelstoke.

Another 33-year-old Alberta man, Steven Hall, was identified as the victim of an avalanche last Friday near Sparwood, in southeast B.C.

And a 44-year-old man from Squamish, B.C. died Mar. 6 after he and four other snowmobilers got caught in a slide near Whistler, B.C.

The yearly cross-Canada average is just under 15 fatalities.