CALGARY -- Avalanche Canada has issued a warning for recreational users of backcountry areas, including Kananaskis Country, Banff, Yoho and Kootenay National Parks, Waterton Lakes National Park and the South Rockies.

"At issue is a persistent weak layer within the snowpack of these regions," reads the warning.

"Although the nature of the layer differs across the ranges, the effect is the same. The storm that blew through Western Canada over the past few days dropped a significant amount of snow, which is now sitting precariously on that weak layer. During the storm, many avalanches on that weak layer ran to historic runouts."

The warning applies to the following forecast regions in Alberta and B.C.:

  • South Rockies
  • Kananaskis Country
  • Banff-Yoho-Kootenay National Parks
  • Waterton Lakes National Park
  • Sea-to-Sky
  • South Coast Inland
  • Purcells
  • Lizard Range-Flathead

“The danger ratings are going down across the map because naturally running avalanches have slowed down or stopped,” said Ilya Storm, forecast program supervisor for Avalanche Canada. “However, now many slopes are primed for human-triggered avalanches. Distinguishing between slopes that have already slid and those that are the tipping point will be very difficult. This, combined with clearing weather during a holiday week, has us very concerned for backcountry users.”

Anyone planning to travel into the backcountry in these areas is advised to check regional avalanche forecasts online and should carry essential survival gear, including a transceiver, probe and shovel, and have the ability to use them.

"Those heading to the mountains to snowshoe or explore the front country should also be aware that many popular summer trails are exposed to avalanche terrain," reads the warning.

A section of Highway 742, from the Goat Creek parking lot to Grassi Lakes, has been closed due to avalanche activity. An estimated time for re-opening is now 6 p.m. on Dec. 24.