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Avalanche expert issues warning as storm sweeps across B.C.

REVELSTOKE, B.C. — An avalanche expert is warning people planning to hit backcountry slopes in eastern British Columbia and western Alberta in the coming days to be extra careful.

Karl Klassen says a major storm tracking across the region could dump up to 50 centimetres of snow on mountains and hills in some areas that are already covered by weak layers.

Klassen says avalanche forecasters are concerned that snowmobilers, skiers and snowboarders might be lulled into a false sense of security after a few years of stable conditions.

“We are asking people to be a bit more cautious this year than they were last year,” Klassen, warning services manager for the Canadian Avalanche Centre in Revelstoke, B.C., said Thursday.

“Take on smaller slopes that aren’t as complex, slopes that aren’t as steep, especially during this storm over the next few days. The weekend is going to be a real challenging time.”

The avalanche hazard prompted the B.C. government to close a 45-kilometre stretch of the Trans-Canada Highway from Craigellachie to Revelstoke in both directions until at least Friday morning. Traffic was being diverted to safer routes.

There have been three serious avalanches in the Golden, B.C., area in the last two weeks, including one on Dec. 20 that killed an Edmonton man who was snowboarding out of bounds at a ski resort.

In another avalanche Dec. 29, two of four people backcountry skiing near the Alberta boundary were injured, one of them seriously. The four were flown out of the area the next day by helicopter.

 
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