Avalanche Canada, Parks Canada and Kananaskis Country Public Safety officials are encouraging outdoor enthusiasts to avoid the backcountry or review conditions in the parks before heading out as there is considerable risk of avalanche activity.

The combination of Thursday’s heavy snowfall and strong wind has escalated the avalanche risk in Kananaskis Country, Banff National Park, Yoho National Park and Kootenay National Park.

“It’s essentially a house of cards,” said Grant Helgeson, a senior avalanche forecaster with Avalanche Canada. “The snow pack has been building up over time and it’s just not very strong. Now here comes this big storm cycle with strong south, southwest winds and 20 to 50 centimetres of news snow.”

“We’re putting a great deal of load on that house of cards and now we expect it to all come tumbling down.”

According to Parks Canada, the avalanche danger rating for Friday in the parks is considered extreme at the alpine and treeline elevations and high danger below the treeline. Kananaskis Country Public Safety officials recommend avoiding all avalanche terrain.

Controlled avalanches has been set off along the Trans-Canada Highway near Field, B.C. and between Golden and Revelstoke, B.C. to reduce the risk of a dangerous slide. The highway was closed during the avalanche work.

Helgeson predicts significant slides will occur in the coming days. “These are very large, very powerful avalanches that we are expecting to release naturally throughout the day today, tonight, into tomorrow and possibly Saturday.”

For updated avalanche conditions visit Avalanche Canada.

With files from CTV's Brenna Rose