Avalanche forecasts for North Rockies available now

For the first time, recreational backcountry users in the North Rockies have an avalanche forecast

A snowmobiler enjoys riding in the Kakwa region of the North Rockies.
A snowmobiler enjoys riding in the Kakwa region of the North Rockies. Photo courtesy Ryan Buhler, Avalanche Canada

For the first time, recreational backcountry users in the North Rockies have an avalanche forecast. Avalanche Canada (AvCan) is now providing a regular forecast to this very popular winter backcountry destination.

“We are very pleased to be able to issue forecasts three times a week for the North Rockies,” said James Floyer, a forecast program supervisor with AvCan. “Producing forecasts for this region has long been a priority for us and thanks to a recent increase in federal funding, we are now able to make this happen.”

The new North Rockies field team: (L to R) Dave Merritt, Martina Halik and Ben Hawkins.
The new North Rockies field team: (L to R) Dave Merritt, Martina Halik and Ben Hawkins. Photo courtesy James Floyer, Avalanche Canada

The North Rockies region encompasses the Rocky Mountains from Highway 16 in the south to Hudson’s Hope in the north, spanning the BC–Alberta border. It is a very popular destination for snowmobilers, and also sees some backcountry skiing.

It has also been the site of several notable avalanche incidents, including the 2016 Renshaw tragedy, when five snowmobilers died in a snow slide. Over the past five winters, nine people have died in avalanches in the North Rockies region—16% of all avalanche fatalities in Canada during that time.

The North Rockies forecast region spans the Rocky Mountains from Highway 16 in the south to Hudson’s Hope, B.C., in the north.
The North Rockies forecast region spans the Rocky Mountains from Highway 16 in the south to Hudson’s Hope, B.C., in the north. Image courtesy Avalanche Canada

AvCan has a three-person field team working in the region. This team, which is modeled after our successful South Rockies field team, will collect snowpack information for our forecasters in Revelstoke. This will enable us to publish forecasts every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday this winter.

“Our field teams play a key role for forecasting in data-sparse regions like the North Rockies,” said Floyer. “In addition to collecting snowpack data, they are able to make valuable connections with backcountry recreationists while working in the field, and showcase safe backcountry travel habits through social media.”

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact Alex Cooper at Avalanche Canada at 250-837-2141 x107, or [email protected].

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