On March 28 Avalanche Canada will issue their last forecast for the winter, around one month earlier than usual.
In a statement released March 23 they explained their forecasts rely primarily on data from a network of individuals across western Canada.
“The early closure of backcountry operations due to the Covid-19 pandemic has cut off much of that data stream, so the warning service is no longer receiving enough information to issue accurate forecasts,” the statement read.
They added the decision is also prompted by concerns about the potential to add more patients to the health care system during the COVID-19 pandemic. Similar concerns have been echoed by athletes and outdoor organizations in the last weeks.
“We do not want to provide a service that promotes recreating in mountainous terrain, where there is often significant hazard,” wrote executive director Gilles Valade. “Both BC and Alberta have declared a state of emergency. Our health authorities, as well as our Prime Minister, are urging people to stay home. This is clearly not the time for taking any sort of risk.”
The Mountain Information Network will also be shut down to users to discourage going into the backcountry.
“We do not take these steps lightly,” added Valade. “Avalanche Canada is the national public avalanche safety organization and we take our responsibilities very seriously. But we feel it is essential that we work together and do what we can to avoid putting any extra load on our healthcare system at this time.”