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Backcountry avalanche warning issued following death of skier

Avalanche Canada and Parks Canada have issued a Special Public Avalanche Warning for recreational backcountry users.

The warning is effective immediately and applies to the Lizard Range & Flathead, South Rockies, Purcells, Kootenay Boundary, South and North Columbia, Glacier National Park and the Cariboos.

According to Avalanche Canada, the snowpack in these areas contains a number of weak layers and recent snowstorms have buried these layers anywhere from 40 centimetres to more than a metre deep.

These conditions can create an unstable snowpack and make it very easy for skiers or snowmobilers to trigger large avalanches.

Avalanche Canada has recorded a number of near misses over the past seven to 10 days, as well as a fatal avalanche accident north of Fernie on Monday.

"Many of these incidents are occurring in what is generally considered fairly safe terrain, such as relatively low-angle slopes, treed areas and even heavily tracked slopes,” said James Floyer, Forecasting Program Supervisor for Avalanche Canada.

“It’s a complex situation and we are now at the tipping point. The warmer temperatures forecast for the coming weekend will definitely increase the chances of triggering an avalanche.”

Click here for current avalanche conditions.

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