A perfect storm of avalanche conditions

Roads, back country around the East Kootenay are dangerous after deadly trifecta of winter storm, warm weather, and freezing conditions.

There’s danger in the back country this week as wet snow and warm temperatures have driven up the avalanche risk in the East Kootenay.

The Canadian Avalanche Centre has issued warnings of high danger in the South Rockies, Purcells and Kootenay Boundary through to Thursday, and Kootenay Pass was closed Wednesday morning for avalanche control.

A severe snowstorm Tuesday evening clogged highways 1, 3 and 5, closing the routes Tuesday night and limiting travel throughout Wednesday.

Drivers on Highway 3 through Kootenay Pass faced delays of up to two hours from 8 a.m. to noon on Wednesday as crews worked on avalanche control in the mountain pass.

Meanwhile, the Trans Canada was closed between Revelstoke and Golden from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday due to avalanche control in Glacier National Park. West of Revelstoke, the road was closed for avalanche control, as well, on Wednesday morning.

The danger is high for recreational back country users in every area near Cranbrook and Kimberley, the Avalanche Centre said Wednesday, adding that travel in avalanche terrain is not recommended while the risk is high.

In the Kootenay Boundary area (south and west of Cranbrook), the danger was high at all levels on Wednesday. It was expected to improve slightly on Thursday, with a high danger rating in the alpine, and considerable at and below treeline.

Storm slab avalanches are likely and wind slab avalanches very likely, said the bulletin.