Extreme avalanche conditions in the Coquihalla Pass prompted an avalanche control mission today by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure's avalanche technicians.
Highway 5 was closed between Merritt and Hope between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. for avalanche control. Two helicopters deployed explosive charges to trigger avalanches on multiple avalanche paths above Highway 5.
Closures of the Coquihalla for avalanche control are rare. The extreme avalanche conditions on the Coquihalla have been created by a combination of snow and weather conditions.
The snowpack at the ministry's high-level weather station is measuring at almost 150 per cent of normal. Additionally, the cold weather followed by the recent warming trend elevated the avalanche hazard, and wind has blown snow onto avalanche paths, further increasing the load.
A bird’s eye view of a controlled Avalanche mission (flickr.com)
- If you're travelling through B.C.'s mountain passes, obey the "Avalanche Area - Do Not Stop" signs.
- If you encounter an avalanche across the highway, stay in your vehicle, keep your seat belt on and do not try to drive through the avalanche.
- If there is cellphone coverage, call 911 to report the situation. If possible, back up to a safe area (beyond the avalanche area sign).
- Obey traffic control personnel. Traffic is stopped when avalanche control work with explosives is taking place.
Learn more about the Province's avalanche prevention program at: http://tranbc.ca/category/safety/avalanche-program/
Government Communications and Public Engagement
Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure