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Parkway closed; special avalanche warning for mountain parks

File photo of an avalanche. Creative Commons photo.

Highway 93 is closed for avalanche hazard and control work between Athabasca Falls and Saskatchewan River Crossing.

The expected reopening at 5 p.m. today with LOW confidence, according to 511 Alberta.

Maligne Lake Road is also expected to remain closed until tomorrow afternoon.

Further, Parks Canada has issued a special avalanche warning for the mountain parks.

From Parks:

What?

Banff, Yoho, Kootenay, Jasper and Mount Revelstoke Glacier National Parks and Alberta Parks Kananaskis Country are issuing a Special Public Avalanche Warning (SPAW) for February 9-12.  The SPAW is to target all recreational back-country users including backcountry skiers and boarders, snowshoers and cross-country skiers.

Why?

Over the past two weeks these regions have been through a prolonged period of elevated avalanche danger and a major avalanche cycle where numerous large avalanches have been running well into the valley bottom. A large storm on Wednesday and Thursday and then a clearing trend for the weekend will be very enticing, but avalanche conditions will remain very touchy with a high likelihood of large avalanches running into valley bottoms.  

What should Visitors do?

Recreational backcountry users should manage their risk by completely avoiding avalanche terrain including exposure to overhead avalanche terrain. Very touchy conditions recently have seen avalanches triggered from up to 100m away from the slope. Skiers at ski-hills should stay inbounds and not venture beyond the ski area boundary.

There are many options for back-country visitors to have a safe enjoyable trip to the national parks without entering avalanche terrain. Contact the Visitor Centers to help with your trip plan and use the avalanche terrain rating guide to help choose a trip appropriate to your level of training, experience and the avalanche danger. Alternatively, visitors may hire a professional guide through the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (ACMG) to help manage their risk.

What are the avalanche problems?

We encourage visitors to follow the avalanche bulletin at www.avalanche.ca. There are two main avalanche problems.  

  •        There are touchy persistent weaknesses buried 80-150 cm deep that have been overloaded by recent snow.
  •        There are fresh wind and storm slabs that are certain to trigger the persistent weakness if they are initiated.

Together these problems have resulted in a large widespread avalanche cycle over the last two weeks.

 

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