(NEWS10) – On Thursday, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) warns backcountry users in the Adirondacks of the potential of high water risks following mild temperatures, high winds, and rain. DEC said high peak regions are especially at risk of potential avalanches due to warmer weather and rain which melt existing snowpack, swell waterways, and make water crossings dangerous.

According to the DEC, avalanche dangers increase during thaws and snow becomes increasingly unstable as it undergoes freeze/thaw cycles. Slush ice is approximately 50 % weaker than new, clear ice, and DEC reminds users to follow ice safety guidelines.

The DEC advises to be cautious on frozen bodies of water, especially near shore and over moving bodies of water, where streams enter and exit lakes and ponds. In addition, they said do not attempt crossing streams where bridges are not available during periods of high, fast-moving water.

During this time water temperatures will be extremely cold and submersion can quickly lead to hypothermia. Officials remind backcountry downhill skiers, snowboarders, and others who traverse slides or steep, open terrain to also be aware and prepared for the potential of avalanche conditions.

Although the majority of avalanche-prone terrain can be found on mountains throughout the Adirondacks, including Snowy Mountain in Hamilton County. DEC says avalanches may occur in situations where snow, slope, and weather conditions are combined to create proper conditions.

Skiers and snowboarders should assess their own experience level before going into the backcountry. DEC advises being equipped with avalanche safety tools and knowledge, such as participation in an avalanche safety course.