Forecast for the Abajos Area Mountains

Issued by Eric Trenbeath for Sunday, January 6, 2019 - 7:06am
Heads up, tricky and dangerous avalanche conditions are developing! The avalanche danger will rise to CONSIDERABLE today on steep slopes that have recent deposits of wind drifted snow. Newly formed wind slabs will rapidly develop on the lee sides of ridge crests and terrain features, primarily on slopes that face the north half of the compass. Avoid slopes with a smooth rounded appearance or that show signs of instability such as cracking in the snow surface. The danger also exists for avalanches to step down 2'-4' deep into buried, persistent weak layers of loose, sugary, faceted snow. Wind loaded, northerly facing slopes with steep, rocky, and more radical terrain are the most suspect for this type of avalanche. Backcountry travelers today need to possess good route finding and snow stability analysis skills.
Low
Moderate
Considerable
High
Extreme
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Weather and Snow
Snow began to fall just after midnight and both Camp Jackson and Buckboard are reporting 6" of new. SE winds on Abajo Peak have been blowing in the 25-30 mph range all night with gusts into the high 40's. They've backed off a bit this morning and have shifted to the SW. Snow will continue today with another 3"-5" possible. Blustery, moderate to strong SW winds will continue throughout the day with high temps near 30 degrees.
I had a look around yesterday, and though conditions remain thin, they are improving and today's storm will help even more. Most concerning to me in my travels was a layer of loose, weak, sugary faceted snow that has been on the ground since October. This layer exists on northerly aspects above about 9500' and is providing an extremely unstable base.
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.
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Avalanche Problem #1
Wind Drifted Snow
Type
Location
Likelihood
Size
Description
Avalanches involving new and wind drifted snow will be your primary concern today though once triggered, wind slabs will also be capable of stepping down into buried, persistent weak layers of sugary, faceted snow. The danger will be most acute on slopes facing the north half of the compass at upper elevations. Avoid steep, freshly wind drifted slopes and look for signs of instability such as cracking in the snow surface.
Avalanche Problem #2
Persistent Weak Layer
Type
Location
Likelihood
Size
Description
On northerly facing slopes, snow has been sitting around on the ground since October. This has formed a persistent weak layer of loose, sugary, faceted snow that makes an unstable base for new snow on top. The new snow load, combined with the weight of a rider, will be all that is needed to trigger an avalanche 2'-3" deep down to this weak, sugary snow near the ground. Avoid steep slopes, and areas of rocky or more radical terrain that faces the north side of the compass, particularly at upper elevations.
General Announcements
Your information can save lives. If you see anything we should know about, please help us out by submitting snow and avalanche observations HERE. You can also call me at 801-647-8896, or send me an email: eric@utahavalanchecenter.org.
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This advisory is from the U.S.D.A. Forest Service, which is solely responsible for its content. This advisory describes general avalanche conditions and local variations always occur.

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