Avalanche Canada Warns that the Warmer Weather Can Trigger an Unstable Snowpack

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Credit: Avalanche Canada

Avalanche experts in Canada are reminding backcountry travelers to stay alert despite the warmer weather, as sunny skies can be one of the triggers that set off an unstable snowpack, reports CBC.

“It warms up every spring so it’s kind of a given. The difference is what’s warming up,” said Canmore avalanche protection consultant Chris Stethem.

He added that there are three big factors at play: sun, temperature, and precipitation.

“Those spring avalanches can be fairly ferocious, sizeable events,” he said.

Stethem said a so-called “alpine start” — heading out early in the day while temperatures are still cool can be one way to stay safe. But it’s not foolproof.

“If you get out to the mountains on a Saturday morning and it’s been warm all night, Friday night, then you’d better make it a pretty modest objective,” he said.

He recommended users avoid steep terrain after snow storms, keep an eye on features like cornices and snow slabs, and carry avalanche safety gear. The main thing, though, is to be both mindful and adaptable.

Avalanche Canada plans to issue its last avalanche forecast for the season later this week.

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