Special Public Avalanche Warning Issued for Western Canada
April 27th, 2023

Special Public Avalanche Warning Issued for Western Canada

Avalanche Canada has issued a Special Public Avalanche Warning (SPAW) for the vast majority of mountainous regions in Western Canada this weekend, due to a dramatic warming trend in the forecast.

SPAWs are typically issued when avalanche conditions are forecasted to be very hazardous or rapidly changing at times when higher numbers of recreationists are more likely to be present in the backcountry, such as weekends and holidays.

The current SPAW points to significant warming in the forecast starting late in the week and continuing through the weekend. Avalanche Canada forecasters are particularly concerned about the result of warming on persistent and deep persistent layers that have been responsible for many large avalanches and general instability this winter across much of British Columbia and western Alberta.

Please see the full details of the Avalanche Canada SPAW below.

– MS

Dangerous Avalanche Conditions Exist for All Mountainous Regions in Western Canada

Revelstoke BC (April 27, 2023) – Avalanche Canada, in partnership with Parks Canada, Kananaskis Country, and the province of British Columbia, is issuing a Special Public Avalanche Warning (SPAW) for recreational backcountry users across the mountainous regions of western Canada.

A dramatic increase in temperatures is expected to destabilize the snowpack, resulting in dangerous, destructive avalanches.

This special warning is in effect immediately and will apply through the end of Monday, May 1.


The current SPAW applies to much of mountainous western Canada.

Dangerous Avalanche Conditions Exist for All Mountainous Regions in Western Canada

The sudden transition from cool, wintry conditions in the alpine to warm temperatures will create dangerous avalanche conditions. The effect of the warm temperatures on the existing snowpack structure means that these avalanches will likely be very large and may run to valley bottoms.

“Dangerous avalanche conditions exist for all mountainous regions in western Canada and the hazard increases with each day of warm air,” explains Mike Conlan, a senior avalanche forecaster with Avalanche Canada.

Regions with persistent or deep persistent slab avalanche problems will be especially problematic, with avalanches potentially involving the full depth of the snowpack.
Mike Conlan, Senior Avalanche Forecaster, Avalanche Canada.

“Warming can also initiate large and destructive cornice falls. Cornices can be destructive by themselves but also act as a trigger for destructive deep persistent avalanches,” adds Conlan.

Avalanche Canada Forecaster’s Blog detailing the problem

All backcountry users, including hikers and scramblers, and anyone recreating in avalanche terrain are advised to leave a wide margin for error during this warming period, stick to simple, low angle terrain and avoid all overhead avalanche hazards.

“We cannot stress the importance of this avalanche warning enough,” said Bowinn Ma, Minister of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness.

“I urge everyone considering heading into the backcountry to take seriously the advice of Avalanche Canada. Sadly, fourteen people have lost their lives to avalanches in B.C. this year—many of whom were extremely experienced. Everyone needs to exercise extreme caution and make good decisions during this Special Public Avalanche Warning to keep themselves and our incredible search and rescue volunteers safe.”

Backcountry users should always check the avalanche forecast at www.avalanche.ca. Everyone in a backcountry party needs the essential rescue gear—transceiver, probe, and shovel—and the training to use it.

Pour la version française, cliquez ici.