02/22/2014 03:31 EST | Updated 04/24/2014 05:59 EDT

Large, Destructive Avalanches Possible Across B.C.

snow avalanche

A special public avalanche warning is in effect for all B.C. mountain regions except two.

The Revelstoke-based Canadian Avalanche Centre is warning of significant potential for large, destructive avalanches in all regions but the North Shore Mountains and the Yukon. The warning will remain in effect until end of day Feb. 26 and the CAC says no one should go into the backcountry without avalanche survival gear.

"The new snow is sitting on one of the worst weak layers we've seen in a few years," said Karl Klassen, manager of the CAC's public avalanche warning service. "That weakness if currently anywhere between one and two metres deep so when it's triggered, the resulting avalanches are very large."

Recent snow in the area is heavy and sitting on a layer of weak snow, making for extremely dangerous conditions.

However, it's unlikely people will realize they are in a dangerous area until it's too late.

"This new snow is pretty substantial," said Albi Sole, avalanche program coordinator at the University of Calgary's Outdoor Centre. "It's really in a dangerous condition. What makes it worse is that we're not actually going to see visual clues that it's dangerous."

The CAC says everyone heading into the backcountry should carry an avalanche transceiver, probe and shovel and be well-practiced with their rescue skills.

With a weather forecast calling for clearing skies, are being advised to be very conservative in their terrain choices.

"If you go to open terrain in the sort of 30 to 40 degree range, you're probably taking a really big risk," Sole said.

"If you're unlucky and you trigger an avalanche, the chances of survival are not very good."

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