Six-hour Coquihalla closure for avalanche control

DRIVERS are advised that all lanes of a section of the Coquihalla Highway (Highway 5) between Hope and Merritt will be closed Tuesday night from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. (Pacific time) to allow for proactive avalanche control at the Coquihalla Summit.

The highway will be closed southbound in Merritt and northbound at Hope beginning at 10 p.m. on Tuesday, January 5, and is expected to reopen by 4 a.m. on Wednesday, January 6. Alternative routes are available via highways 1 and 3.

The avalanche control, using explosives, is due to heavy snowfall over the last several weeks. This will remove any weak layers of snow and ice and reduce the overall depth of the snowpack, providing continued safe travel for people using the Coquihalla.

The Coquihalla Summit has received over 70 cm of snowfall since December 31 and more snow is expected through the end of this week. Based on records dating back to 1986 when the highway opened, the current accumulations in the area are the third-deepest snowpack for this time of year. The current total accumulation to date is over 500 cm, which is 150% of the average snowfall for this time of the year.

The ministry’s avalanche program is run by highly trained avalanche professionals who monitor weather and snowpack conditions continuously during the avalanche season. The program manages more than 60 avalanche areas that include almost 1,400 individual avalanche paths throughout the province.

Drivers should alter travel plans as necessary. For the most up-to-date highway travel information, check @DriveBC on Twitter
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