02/20/2014 04:03 EST | Updated 04/22/2014 05:59 EDT

Public warning issued for potentially large avalanches in B.C. backcountry

REVELSTOKE, B.C. - The Canadian Avalanche Centre has issued a special public warning about the potential for large, destructive avalanches in all B.C. mountain regions, except for the area just north of Vancouver.

The centre's Karl Klassen says fresh snow is sitting atop one of the weakest surface layers they've seen in years after an extended dry period in late January and early February.

Klassen says the weakness is currently between one and two metres deep and could result in very big slides.

He says that while the drought has created pent-up demand for powder by recreational backcountry users, the weak layer will persist for the foreseeable future.

Everyone in a group venturing into terrain is being urged to carry an avalanche transceiver, probe and shovel and have a good knowledge of rescue skills.

The centre is also recommending backcountry enthusiasts take an avalanche skills training course and check the avalanche bulletin regularly to stay informed of conditions in their area.