A heightened avalanche risk shut down three ski runs at the Whistler Blackcomb resort Thursday, reports CTV.
In a series of tweets posted between 2:20 and 3:20 pm, the resort announced the Showcase T-bar, Blackcomb Glacier, and the Tube Park would be closed for the remainder of the day. The closures come a day after an avalanche at the SilverStar Mountain Resort near Vernon left a 42-year-old man critically injured.
A spokesperson for Whistler Blackcomb said the SilverStar avalanche did not influence its decision Thursday but said the incident is “an indicator of what the conditions are like now,” adding that the resort continues to monitor snow conditions on a constant basis to ensure the safety of visitors.
According to Avalanche Canada, warming temperatures have increased the risk of avalanches by destabilizing the snowpack across the province. In a widespread public warning issued Monday, the agency addressed anyone heading into the backcountry and applies to large portions of BC and Alberta.
“The snowpack really doesn’t like rapid changes,” senior avalanche forecaster Grant Helgeson told CTV News. “The snow’s actually destabilizing very quickly and as a result, we’re seeing many large natural avalanches starting to creep up on us throughout the mountains of B.C.”
Current conditions are not typical of spring, Helgeson added. Around this time of year, the snowpack is typically stable in the morning, but above-average overnight temperatures aren’t dipping low enough to refreeze the snowpack.
According to Environment Canada, the warm spell that triggered the avalanche warning is expected to last into next week.