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Be careful in backcountry this weekend

Warm temperatures could cause streams to rise quickly, avalanches

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Many people are looking forward to warm temperatures this long weekend, but the Ministry of Environment is warning campers and backcountry users to be aware of potentially dangerous conditions.

With temperatures expected to reach 30C today and tomorrow, Environment Minister Barry Penner reminded campers and hikers to be aware that water levels will rise significantly in many streams and creeks as the heavy winter snowpack finally starts to melt.

If you are planning to be on or near a river this holiday weekend, the Ministry of Environment advises caution because water levels and velocities are high, water temperatures are cold and rivers may contain debris.

In addition, banks around rivers, creeks and streams can erode, causing them to become unstable. People should be extra vigilant when walking or playing near these water bodies, as banks can give way without warning. Keep children and pets away from riverbanks.

Stream levels can rise quickly. Stop and check backcountry bridges before crossing, especially if streamflows are high. If in doubt, don’t use the structure. Exercise caution when choosing a campsite near a river, as water levels can rise during the night.

As well, the heavy snowpack may still pose avalanche threats to backcountry skiers and hikers. Anyone traveling in the backcountry this weekend should carry avalanche safety gear, including an emergency transceiver, shovel and probe.

Hikers, campers and backcountry travelers are advised to tell somebody where they are going, and when they expect to return.

For additional information about streamflows, refer to the B.C. River Forecast Centre’s webpage at www.env.gov.bc.ca/rfc/river_forecast/bulletin.htm .

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