While the nearly 40 centimetres of snow that have accumulated on Whistler's peaks in the last 72 hours may have resulted in ideal ski conditions and long lift lines on Sunday, Feb.18 B.C.'s Ministry of Public Safety is reminding backcountry users to be cautious.
As of Sunday, Avalanche Canada's danger rating remains at considerable for both the alpine and treeline following Saturday's storm. Fresh snow has created storm slabs that will be reactive, particularly in wind-affected terrain, the forecast explained. Avalanche Canada is also warning backcountry users to give cornices an extra-wide berth from both above and below.
The several storms that have hit the province so far in 2018, coupled with a drop in temperatures and high winds forecasted for the beginning of the week, have created a "complex snowpack" in much of B.C.'s backcountry areas, the ministry explained in an information bulletin sent out on Feb. 16.
"There is considerable risk of natural and human-caused avalanches," stated the ministry, adding that search-and-rescue teams have already responded to more than 160 incidents across the province since Jan. 1.
The ministry urges anyone exploring backcountry terrain to be prepared with suitable equipment and an awareness of the risks. It also advises those who do to never travel alone, to plan ahead, carry a signalling device, and other essential equipment such as a fully charged cellphone, compass and/or GPS unit, and a flashlight.
Everyone heading out into the backcountry must also have adequate avalanche training and proper equipment, including a shovel, a probe and a transceiver, the ministry added.
Meanwhile, clear skies following yesterday's storm have also resulted in slippery, icy roads throughout the valley.
Environment Canada also issued a wind warning for Howe Sound on Sunday, with strong northerly winds that may cause damage expected to reach 70km/h to 90km/h. The gusts are forecasted to ease overnight.
For more information on current backcountry conditions, go to http://www.avalanche.ca/planning/trip-planner.