REPORTING · 26th January 2011
Update - The highway was reopened at 2 pm Wednesday afternoon
Last evening 65 mm of precipitation fell in the region and another 40 mm is expected today. In the higher mountain passes west of Terrace this has meant heavy snow on top of the existing snowpack. According to District Highways Manager Don Ramsey this has created a High Avalanche Hazard situation which necessitated the closure of Highway 16 from the gates at New Remo to the gates at Rainbow Pass east of Prince Rupert.
There are two major avalanche paths between 50 and 60 kilometers west of Terrace; North Route and East Gate. The Ministry has contracted a helicopter team to survey the situation, however due to the low overcast situation this may prove difficult. They will be assessing these two locations first to determine if the area has already slid on its own. If they discover the snow has not broken free they will need to perform “Heli Bombing” to break it loose before the highway can be reopened.
The low overcast may also inhibit the bombing operation; as to be effective and to ensure a snow pack is not left above the slide, they need to bomb the area at an elevation of 1300 meters. This could mean the highway would remain closed until tomorrow when the overcast situation is expected to change.
Shames Mountain will also remain closed as the road up the ski hill is under the same avalanche threat. The Ministry of Highways will address the Shames Mountain road after highway 16 is reopened.