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Avalanche danger 'considerable' in Chilkat Pass area

Jeff Moskowitz, a forecaster with the Haines Avalanche Center, measures snow layers on Nadahini mountain.  (Avalanche Canada - image credit)
Jeff Moskowitz, a forecaster with the Haines Avalanche Center, measures snow layers on Nadahini mountain. (Avalanche Canada - image credit)

A backcountry avalanche forecast released by the Haines Avalanche Center on Saturday reported 'considerable' danger above 450 m in the Chilkat Pass area, and 'moderate' danger below.

The report noted the presence of 'storm slabs,' or sections where 15 to 30 cm of cohesive, newer snow is resting over weaker layers. These slabs can make human-triggered avalanches more likely.

"Currently, we have a hard bed surface, weak layers and a cohesive slab on top – a recipe for an avalanche," said Jeff Moskowitz, a forecaster with Haines Avalanche Center.

Moskowitz advised anyone headed into mountainous terrain in the area outlined below to carry a beacon, shovel, and probe, and avoid travelling alone.

Areas with 'considerable' avalanche danger are pictures in orange on a forecast map released by Haines Avalanche Center at 6 am on Feb. 10.
Areas with 'considerable' avalanche danger are pictures in orange on a forecast map released by Haines Avalanche Center at 6 am on Feb. 10.

Areas with 'considerable' avalanche danger are pictures in orange on a forecast map released by Haines Avalanche Center at 6 am on Feb. 10. (Haines Avalanche Center)

"It does no good if you're out there by yourself [with the right gear] and get caught and buried in an avalanche," he said.

"You need partners, partners who are also carrying the same equipment and trained in basic avalanche rescue skills."

Avalanche Canada also warned of 'considerable' risk in the mountains near Carcross and Bennett Lake on Saturday.

Avalanche Canada map showing areas with considerable avalanche danger near Carcross.
Avalanche Canada map showing areas with considerable avalanche danger near Carcross.

Avalanche Canada map showing areas with considerable avalanche danger near Carcross. (Avalanche Canada)

Temperatures in southwest Yukon have surged over the weekend, with Haines Junction, Whitehorse and Carcross all seeing highs around 2 degrees.

"When we're talking about red flags with weather conditions, we're talking about precipitation, wind, warming temperatures, rain on snow – those are immediate indicators that there could be unstable conditions," said Moskowitz.

On Saturday morning, the Haines Avalanche Center also shared that the Haines Highway had closed at the Canadian border, but by 12:22 pm the same day, 511 Yukon reported the road open.

According to Moskowitz, the temporary closure was due to blowing snow and visibility concerns and not connected to avalanche risk.

Avalanche conditions can change quickly, so those looking to get informed on conditions before heading out should monitor Canadian and American avalanche information pages for the most up-to-date forecasts.