Avalanche warning issued for Northern Rockies

The scene of two recent fatalities, the Northern Rockies region has been included in a special warning issued Thursday by Avalanche Canada.

The warning is in effect immediately and will last at least through the coming weekend, the agency said. It also applies to the South Rockies, the Lizard and Flathead, and Waterton Lakes National Park.

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A Fernie, B.C. man was killed Tuesday in an avalanche in the Swift Creek Valley north of Valemount and a snowmobiler was killed in an avalanche in the Hasler area southwest of Chetwynd on Feb. 2.

Avalanche Canada attributed the two incidents to a persistent weak layer in the North Rockies and said it was also the suspected cause of a near-miss incident in the South Rockies that led to serious injuries.

“The next wave of storms is going to make for great riding but will also increase the load on these persistent weak layers, making avalanches even easier to trigger,” said Avalanche Canada warning service manager Karl Klassen. “This string of fatal and serious incidents should be a wake-up call for all backcountry users, especially in the North and South Rockies. This layer is deep enough that it’s not easily seen, but large and destructive human triggered avalanches are expected.”

Backcountry users are urged always check their regional avalanche forecasts at www.avalanche, carry essential rescue gear - transceiver, probe, and shovel - and know how to use them.

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