|Thousands of snow avalanches occur each
year in British Columbia. Our provincial highways routed through mountain passes
are very susceptible to this safety hazard.|
the Ministry of Transportation and Highways, Snow Avalanche Programs staff work
hard to ensure that motorists can rely on a safe provincial transportation system
during the winter months.
1,200 kilometres of provincial roads are prone to the danger of avalanches in
60 hazardous areas, including Kootenay Pass, Bear Pass, the Trans Canada Highway
near Revelstoke, Allison Pass, the Fraser Canyon, the Coquihalla, Duffey Lake
Road and Highway 16 between Terrace and Prince Rupert. Each year, more than 2,000
natural and/or controlled avalanches are recorded either above or on provincial
highways throughout B.C.
avalanches are triggered when the bonds that hold the snowpack together break
from additional stresses created by factors such as rain, wind, rising temperatures
and/or the weight of new snow. While it is difficult to predict exactly when or
where an avalanche will occur, detailed monitoring and investigation of the snowpack,
weather conditions and past avalanche occurrences can provide enough information
to forecast avalanche cycles.
winter months, snow avalanche technicians maintain a constant watch over weather
and snowpack conditions - Snow Avalanche Programs. If they determine that avalanches
may occur which could block a highway or threaten safety, the highway is closed.
During these closures, the avalanche technician will either allow the avalanches
to occur naturally or use explosives to artificially trigger the avalanches.
most common methods employed by the ministry are artillery and explosives charges
dropped by helicopters. In addition to these traditional methods of avalanche
control, the ministry has recently installed an avalanche control system known
as Gaz-Ex. This system allows an avalanche technician to release and detonate
an explosive mixture of oxygen and propane by radio telemetry to an exploder.
The exploders are located at predetermined sites which are prone to avalanches.
Currently, the ministry has 12 exploders in Kootenay Pass and 2 in Duffey Lake.
ministry's avalanche technicians are highly trained in avalanche forecasting and
avalanche safety. They constantly assess weather and snowpack conditions to determine
the avalanche hazard. Ensuring public safety sometimes requires that a road be
closed. To better forecast avalanches, the ministry has developed a network of
manual and automated weather stations. These stations provide avalanche technicians
with up-to-date weather and snowpack observations. These observations help avalanche
technicians determine the risk to the highway.
You Can Do to Ensure Your Safety
|Observe the sign "Avalanche Area-Do Not Stop." Drive carefully in
avalanche areas. Avalanches may reach the highway without warning.|
road closures. The avalanche hazard is high and avalanche control work by explosives
may be carried out at any time.|
an avalanche blocks the highway, remain in your vehicle with seat belts on and
await assistance. It is easier to find a car in the snow than it is to find a
person. Try to drive to a safe area if possible. Do not attempt to drive through
aware of the possibility of road closures. When travelling through avalanche areas,
allow extra time to reach your destination.|
your winter travel involves backcountry recreation in Western Canada (such as
ski touring, snowmobiling, ice climbing, snow boarding and snowshoeing) please
contact the Canadian Avalanche