Friday August 01, 2014

Seeing the Warning Signs

Apache lends a hand to avalanche forecast program
Allison Gibbard Photo

Norm Seefried, senior productions foreman for B.C. operations with Apache, explained that his company donated the money and equipment to the Canadian Avalanche Centre to help make sure that people make it home safe from both work and play in Canada's great outdoors.

Proving safety and knowledge of the weather conditions is the goal of the pilot project that was announced, Friday December 7, 2012 at Northern Lights College campus in Dawson Creek.

"We value safety as a core for our people and we demand that our people take safety seriously and that works either at work or with their families and we want to make sure that everyone comes home every night either through work or through play and for that reason I am honored to be here to day," said Norm Seefried, senior productions foreman for BC operations for Apache Canadian.

An avalanche forecast is important to this region because it will give recreational users an idea of what areas are safe and which ones have increased risks for avalanches.

"An avalanche forecast is like a weather forecast. What are forecasters do is the they look at the weather, they look at the snow pack that exist in an area, they look at what kind of avalanche activity is going on and then they try to predict when avalanches are going to occur and then warn people about times when there is greater risk and more hazards for avalanches," said acting executive director for the Canadian Avalanche centre Karl Klassen.

To help ensure that those who choose to play in the backcountry know exactly what they are up against, Apache has donated two remote weather stations and an additional $25,000 for the launch and upgrade of the equipment.

In addition to that funding, the provincial government has also donated $50,000 towards this program.

MLA Blair Lekstrom explained, that this project will help make sure that those who use the backcountry recreationally will have the appropriate information.

"It's really about safety–as we see more and more recreational users in the backcountry, particularly people out sledding and skiing, safety is the foremost concern for everybody," said MLA Blair Lekstrom.

Carole Savage, snowmobile program coordinator for the Canadian Avalanche Centre said, "The North Rockies pilot project is a one year project that we got government funding as well as private sector funding for, to get some more information on the North Rockies area south of the Peace Arm," she said.

Currently, there is only a once a week conditions outlook and Savage hopes that this new project will change all that.

"Our job this winter is to network with the stakeholders find out where people are playing and see what are options are to come up with a better conditions forecast for you," said Savage.

Acting executive director Karl Klassen agreed.

"The whole reason for doing this is to find out what we need to do in the future to make it sustainable long term forecast region."

According to Seefried, Apache decided to donate the satellite stations because they felt, they would benefit the project and help it get up and running faster.

"The two satellite stations we had in stalk and we realized that they would fit and complement what CAC is trying to do with some minor upgrades they could put them into service quickly and start the program so as a result, we agreed to provide those weather stations and the funds to upgrade them so they're fully functional," said Seefried.

"Because the Canadian Avalanche centre is a non-profit organization, these contributions go a long way."

"The money that's been provided by the province of British Columbia and by Apache Corporation," said Klassen, "and the equipment that Apache has given us, is going to allow us to start down the road toward producing better and more avalanche information for the region."

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