Large avalanche closes Coquihalla Highway – CTV News
A major avalanche hit the Coquihalla Highway late Thursday morning, closing the highway yet again after recently being reopened from a previous avalanche.
The class four – on a five point scale – avalanche is blocking the highway in both directions approximately 33 km north of Hope.
“This current avalanche cycle resulted in slides on paths that have never before reached the road in the 27 years that the Coquihalla Highway has been open,” said B.C. Ministry of Transportation spokesperson Robert Adam.
Crews were able to confirm no one was injured in the incident and no vehicles were in the area at the time.
Time-lapse video in the area shows near whiteout conditions at the time of the slide, which a left 1 metre deep swath of snow and debris covering a 100 metre stretch of the highway.
Once conditions allow, transportation ministry officials will carry out further avalanche control and start the cleanup.
The highway will remain closed until the risk of further avalanches decreases and the cleanup in finished – no word on when that will be.
The Canadian Avalanche Centre has issued a special public warning about the potential for large, destructive avalanches in all B.C. mountain regions, except for the area just north of Vancouver.
The centre’s Karl Klassen says fresh snow is sitting atop one of the weakest surface layers they’ve seen in years after an extended dry period in late January and early February.
Klassen says the weakness is currently between one and two metres deep and could result in very big slides.
Continued low temperatures also create the potential for this new, dry snowpack to fall faster and further than usual.
The recent drought has created pent-up demand for powder by recreational backcountry users, the weak layer will persist for the foreseeable future, according to Klassen.
Everyone in a group venturing into terrain is being urged to carry an avalanche transceiver, probe and shovel and have a good knowledge of rescue skills.
The centre is also recommending backcountry enthusiasts take an avalanche skills training course and check the avalanche bulletin regularly to stay informed of conditions in their area.
Transportation ministry officials recommend travelers check DriveBC.ca for up-to-date highway information.
With files from Canadian Press