Forecast for the Abajos Area Mountains

Issued by Eric Trenbeath for Friday, December 14, 2018 - 7:30am
The avalanche danger is MODERATE on steep, upper elevation terrain that face NW-N-E. In these areas, old snow from October has deteriorated into layers of weak, sugary, faceted snow that is providing an unstable base for the last snow load. There may also be some fresh shallow wind drifts in upper elevation, wind exposed terrain. In most other areas, the avalanche danger is LOW. Low snow conditions are in effect and backcountry travelers need to exercise caution in avoiding buried obstacles such as rocks and deadfall.
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Weather and Snow
Skies are clear, NW winds are light, and temps are in the low 20's. Daytime highs will be near 30 degrees with winds shifting to the SW. We may see a few high clouds this afternoon as a weak trough moves through the region. High pressure returns for the weekend with nothing out there on the horizon.
Snow conditions are still quite low for off-trail recreation.
Snow totals at Buckboard Flat (8924')
Snow totals at Camp Jackson (8858')
Wind, temperature, and humidity on Abajo Peak (11,000')
National Weather Service point forecast.
Avalanche Problem #1
Persistent Weak Layer
Unfortunately, those slopes that have the most snow, are also the ones that are the most suspect for avalanche problems. Snow that has sat around since October has deteriorated into a weak base of loose, sugary, faceted snow. You can find this weak snow on mid and upper elevation slopes that face NW-N-W. The photo below illustrates the most recent snow, separated from the old by a melt freeze crust. Persistent weak layers of loose, sugary, faceted snow exist above, and below the crust. This is an unstable base, and human triggered avalanches, breaking down into these weak layers are possible on steep slopes wherever old snow has been sitting around since October.

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