Avalanche Program

Information on how our Avalanche Safety Program keeps our roads safe, constantly monitoring conditions and closing-reopening roads to avoid disaster.

Avalanche Team Welcomes New Members with a Boom

Avalanche Team Welcomes New Members with a Boom

Picture these cute Star Wars-looking devices standing guard on the cliffs above, as you drive along the western end of Highway 16. They’re watching over motorists (just like we are) and are ready to (upon our command) remove snow from above to keep you travelling safely to your destination.

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Share and Share Alike – Federal Sections on Provincial Highways

A strange thing happens when you’re travelling BC’s highways and you head through Rogers Pass, drive a section of Highway 93, cruise alongside Long Beach near Tofino, or travel Highway 97, 133 kilometres north of Dawson Creek. You see, the ground under your tires changes… You may think that’s provincially owned and operated road beneath you…but it’s not. These stretches of road are owned and operated by the federal government’s Parks Canada Agency, which has a long involvement with the...

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Ka-BOOM! 3 Types of Remote Avalanche Control in BC

“Even the largest avalanche is triggered by small things.” Vernor Vinge, author Rain… Wind… The weight from a layer of fresh snow… Warming temperatures… It doesn’t take much to break the bonds that hold a snowpack together, releasing a cascade of snow and debris down a mountainside scarred by avalanche paths. But it’s our avalanche technicians’ job to beat Mother Nature to the punch near BC highways. While the most common method for triggering controlled avalanches is helibombing (in...

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Avalanche Closure Time Cut by Explosive Innovation

The Kootenay Pass avalanche team wanted to shorten road closures due to avalanche control, because at the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure our biggest drive is to keep people and goods moving efficiently and safely along BC highways. When the new avalanche explosion hardware and software were installed in 2015, BC became the first Gazex system user in the world, to not only suggest this change, but to incorporate new software successfully into an existing system.

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How to Keep Traffic Moving in Avalanche Country

It looks like something out of Star Wars. Large metal towers dominating a vantage point over a frozen cliff face that suddenly drop explosives charges, triggering a wall of snow that cascades down the mountain. But this isn’t science fiction. It’s a new technology designed to make roads safer and cut down on traffic headaches. It’s called a Remote Avalanche Control System, or RACS, and this winter we’re piloting it along a stretch of the Trans-Canada Highway called Three...

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What it’s Like to Watch an Avalanche from a Helicopter

For most people, avalanches incite terror (for good reason!), and should be avoided at all times. But what is true for backcountry enthusiasts doesn’t apply to our ministry avalanche technicians. For them, uniting snow and gravity is a way of life – performed from a safe distance in the name of highway safety. Our crews recently captured video footage of two methods of avalanche control at separate ends of the province: Bear Pass and Kootenay Pass. And it’s pretty...

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Can You Guess the BC Highway Mountain Pass Word Scramble?

Can You Guess the BC Highway Mountain Pass Word Scramble?

Mountain passes have always posed special challenges for engineers and travellers – ever since we started blazing foot trails, carving out wagon roads, and ultimately laying down highways. But while steep grades and fast-changing weather conditions demand extra caution, mountain passes give us access to some of the most beautiful scenery in the province. There are more than 50 mountain passes in BC, many of them natural landmarks from our favourite road trips. We thought it would be fun...

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Behind the Scenes: Hanging From a Rock Face for Avalanche Safety

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure Avalanche and Weather Program is changing the landscape of avalanche control in Canada. Dropping explosives from a helicopter has traditionally been our weapon of choice for triggering controlled avalanches. But some challenging terrain on Yellowhead Highway 16, between Terrace and Prince Rupert, has compelled our avalanche team to try harnessing snow and ice rather than letting it loose. In fall 2014, crews completed Canada’s second ever avalanche fencing installation at the 35 Mile...

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