Avalanche Canada warns the risk of avalanches is very real and very dangerous. On average, avalanches claim ten people every year in Canada.
British Columbia is usually the hardest hit.
According to Avalanche Canada, "there is a real potential for triggering larger-than-expected avalanches as slabs are now primed to release, adopt a conservative approach by sticking to low-angle terrain".
Sometimes snow is heavy and wet. Sometimes its dry and light Different types of snow create "layers". An avalanche happens when the bonds that hold the winter snowpack layers together break. The slabs can be huge.
Many factors can break the bond. Sometimes human activities in the backcountry can trigger an avalanche. Rain, wind, or a rise in temperature can also cause snow to slide.
The Avalanche Encyclopedia is a good resource.
Avalanche Warning Signs
- Evidence of previous avalanches
- Cracks form in the snow around your feet or skis.
- The ground feels hollow underfoot.
- A "whumping" sound while you walk might indicates the snow is settling and a slab might release.
- Heavy snowfall or rain in the past 24 hours
- Significant warming or rapidly increasing temperatures
You see surface patterns on the snow made by the force of strong winds. This could indicate that snow has been transported and deposited in dangerous drifts that could release.