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NEWS RELEASE · 17th January 2011
Ministry of Transportation
Current avalanche activities and closures in effect are:

* Hwy 1 within Glacier National Park. Expect delays between 3 p.m. and 11 p.m.

* Hwy 1 east of Golden closed until Wednesday

* Hwy 31A near New Denver closed until further notice

* Hwy 93 between Radium Hot Springs and Castle Junction closed until Monday afternoon

* Hwy 97 between Prince George and Chetwynd closed until Monday


Extreme avalanche conditions, blowing snow and freezing rain are hampering highway travel in many parts of British Columbia. Anyone planning a highway trip is advised to "know before you go" by checking the DriveBC website at drivebc.ca for the latest road reports.

In the Kootenay region, the Kicking Horse Canyon is experiencing a once-in-30-years avalanche cycle, with over a metre of heavy snow falling on top of a weaker layer of snow. This, combined with unseasonably warm temperatures and strong alpine winds, is making the snow pack throughout the Kootenays extremely unstable. As a result, more than 30 large avalanches have occurred along Highway 1 in the Kicking Horse Canyon, east of Golden.

Highway 1 is expected to remain closed until Wednesday in order for avalanche technicians to release the snow pack and clear the roads. This same storm cycle is having a similar affect on Highway 93 South in Kootenay National Park. This route is also closed and is expected to remain closed overnight.

The Ministry has ten avalanche experts working around the clock along with technicians from Parks Canada. These technicians are highly specialized and skilled in avalanche control activities with over 150 years of combined field experience, and are all registered with the Canadian Avalanche Association.

Today's poor visibility grounded helicopters and prevented avalanche work from occurring. Tomorrow's forecast is for better flying conditions and it is hopeful crews will be able to resume avalanche activities at first light. Once senior avalanche technicians determine that the avalanche paths are safe, highway maintenance crews will immediately begin the process of clearing the roadway, and crews and equipment are standing by.

Additionally, late Sunday afternoon, Highway 97 between Prince George and Chetwynd experienced its first significant avalanche to reach the highway in over ten years. This portion of the highway remains closed overnight until avalanche technicians can access the area at first light to assess the snowpack.

In addition to the avalanche activity, some areas of the province are experiencing prolonged snowfall, freezing rain and blowing snow to the extent that a number of travel advisories have been established. Travel advisories are used to warn motorists of road or weather conditions that will present a significant travel challenge. It is important that motorists pay heed to travel advisories and check webcams and information on DriveBC before they decide to travel, and ensure their vehicles are properly equipped for severe winter weather. Travel during advisories is not recommended unless absolutely necessary.

Travel advisories as of 5 p.m. Sunday:
* Hwy 2 blowing snow between Pouce Coupe and Alberta border
* Hwy 5 freezing rain south of Tete Jaune Cache
* Hwy 16 blowing snow and freezing rain Prince Rupert to Terrace area
* Hwy 16 freezing rain in the McBride area
* Hwy 29 blowing snow near Hwy 52 Tumbler Ridge
* Hwy 29 blowing snow near Hudson's Hope
* Hwy 37S Freezing raid in the Kitimat area
* Hwy 37A blowing snow Alaska Border to Meziadin Junction
* Hwy 49 blowing snow in the Dawson Creek area
* Hwy 97 North of Prince George through MacKenzie blowing snow
* Hwy 97 Fort St John area blowing snow

Motorists travelling to or from Alberta can use Highway 3, near Cranbrook, or Highway 16 near McBride. Motorists travelling from the Peace south will need to use Highway 37 through Dease Lake or Highway 2 through Alberta to Highway 40 and down to Highway 16.

Maintenance crews are patrolling the highways 24/7, plowing and sanding. DriveBC provides current highway conditions, travel advisories and closures. You can also see current conditions, with 175 highway webcams strategically placed around the province.

Follow DriveBC and TranBC on Twitter and get up-to-date information on your desktop or your mobile phone. These Twitter feeds are available at
http://twitter.com/tranbc and http://twitter.com/drivebc.