(Image / Avalanche Canada)

Travellers looking to head into the backcountry this week should be wary of an avalanche warning that has been put into effect by Avalanche Canada until Sunday, February 24th.

The safety warning is for regions of the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island in a region north of Port Alberni that includes Mt. Washington.

Avalanche Canada says the dangerous conditions are due to a weak layer of snow buried underneath a thick 50 cm deep covering of powder. The weak layer underneath is fairly easy to trigger, which would bring down the upper layer with it.

Additionally, a storm in Friday’s forecast could bring 10 – 15 cm of snow on the mountains, according to Avalanche Canada, making the situation even more dangerous.

While the warning may include backcountry or out-bounds-areas of Mt. Washington, Avalanche Canada is quick to note that the ski runs and the resort have ample safety measures to keep visitors safe.

“We do not expect the snow to stabilize after the storm, which is unusual for the coastal mountains,” said James Floyer, Warning Program Supervisor for Avalanche Canada in a news release.

“Human-triggered avalanches will be likely over the weekend, especially on steeper terrain. The clearing skies and fresh snow will be very inviting but we are urging backcountry users to be extra cautious during this period.”

Safety First

Avalanche Canada is encouraging people who are looking to enjoy the backcountry this week to use safe travel techniques and to avoid steep terrain.

The safest areas to travel is simple terrain with slopes of 30 degrees or lower. Backcountry travellers should also keep in mind that sparse trees or small pockets of trees are not safe in these conditions, and could result in being pushed up into the trees if an avalanche occurred.

“We recommend Avalanche Skills Training (AST) Level 1 training at the minimum to be able to safely asses slopes and make good decisions if you’re heading into the backcountry,” Floyer told Victoria Buzz.

“It is quite reasonable to go into the backcountry at this time by adopting a mindset that is aware of hazards and the terrain.”

Current avalanche conditions can be found at their website here.

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