Avalanche Canada is issuing a Special Public Avalanche Warning for backcountry enthusiasts in the south coast. 

The warning is in effect immediately and through this weekend. 

Avalanche Canada forecasters will reassess the situation on Monday to determine if the warning should be extended into next week.

Meanwhile, the Vancouver Island Avalanche Centre says Mount Washington ski patrol reported several “several” controlled avalanches being initiated, also soft slab in nature. 

The centre says by Saturday, the avalanche risk  on local mountains will be high on the alpine and treeline, and ‘considerable’ below the treeline.

Area where avalanche warning has been issued. (Avalanche Canada)

On the south coast, the snowpack is highly unusual, with a buried weak layer that is generally not found in this warmer climate. 

“The unusually cold weather over the past two weeks has created an active and dangerous weakness in the snowpack, especially in the North Shore Mountains,” the centre said.

“This weak layer is widespread and relatively easy for a person to trigger,” explains Avalanche Canada forecaster Kate Devine. 

“There have already been a number of close calls and the snowfall predicted for the coming weekend will bury this layer even deeper. This added snow load will increase the depth and size of the avalanche, which could be deadly for anyone who is caught.”

Backcountry users should always check their regional avalanche forecasts here. Everyone in a backcountry party needs the essential rescue gear—transceiver, probe, and shovel—and the knowledge to use it.