Avalanches can be deadly, but this year, the number of avalanche-related fatalities and serious injuries in British Columbia has been staggering.
Deaths from avalanche incidents have been recorded near Nelson, Valemount and Revelstoke this year, and a recent incident near Cherryville resulted in one person taken to hospital.
These incidents should not be seen as statistics, but as individual tragedies. Each of those who have died in an avalanche are people who have left behind family and friends.
Fortunately, there have been no reports of avalanches on Vancouver Island so far in 2023, although Avalanche Canada did release a level four danger rating in the area spanning around the Comox Valley in January. According to Avalanche Canada data, avalanche conditions were rated as “moderate” on Vancouver Island on Tuesday, Feb. 14. The risk is real, and local.
The stories of this year’s avalanche disasters should highlight the risks of avalanche dangers. British Columbia’s avalanche season typically starts in November and continues into May.
The busiest months are December through March. It is possible there will be more serious incidents before the season is over.
While avalanches can be a hazard in any winter, the risk of avalanches in parts of British Columbia this year is at its highest level in more than a decade.
Conditions have been described as unpredictable.
This year’s snowpack has been compared to 2003, one of the worst years for avalanche fatalities on record. That year, avalanches claimed the lives of 29 people in Canada, most in British Columbia.
It was a devastating year, and one nobody wants to see repeated.
This is why Avalanche Canada and the provincial government have been issuing warnings, urging people to stay away from steep slopes and to check conditions before heading out. It is important to heed these warnings.
We are in the midst of a severe avalanche season.
Extreme precautions are necessary. For the latest conditions, visit avalanche.ca/en/map – Black Press