A severe winter storm across much of the southern Interior has brought more than 40 centimeters of snowfall to mountain passes, with more expected.

Avalanche Canada predicts alpine regions in the area will have a high or considerable risk for avalanches today.

There were closures on the Kootenay pass, Highway 31 near the Upper Arrow Lake ferry and from Golden to Revelstoke on the Trans Canada Highway due to these conditions.

Snow safety expert Trish Drinkle says with more snow on the way, the risk continues.

“We still have a really really persistent weak layer down low and as all this new snow keeps coming with that extra weight on that stress point of the weak layer, we can expect some activity as far as avalanches go.”

She suggests staying on slopes no steeper than 30 degrees and to stay away from logging roads which are prone to avalanches due to clear cutting and steep slopes.

Drinkle who is also a Director at British Columbia Snowmobile Federation says proper training is paramount for back country users and has some good safety reminders, for example having a partner with you.

“If you are approaching an area that could potentially be a slide path, mitigate the involvement of humans. So if we go one at a time, leaving adequate space between people so that if an avalanche should come down, you’re not involving all the people who are potential rescuers.”

Drinkle says these conditions are dangerous even for the most experienced and technologically prepared adventurers.

“It’s important to maintain that sense of humility. Be humble. That mountain? That mountain could kill you. Even if you are wearing an avalanche bag or you’ve taken your second level AST course, the mountain doesn’t care.”

Image courtesy of Wikimedia

Having a group with Level 1 AST  training, transceivers and personal avalanche airbags is a must according to Drinkle. However, she says a common mistake even for veterans is the hesitancy to  activate the airbags when in trouble.

For more details on which areas have been affected by heavy snowfall and avalanche risk, follow this link.