Forecast for the Abajos Area Mountains

Issued by Mark Staples for Wednesday, March 13, 2019 - 6:50am
Avoid all steep slopes and all avalanche terrain today.
Heavy snowfall and strong west winds will make the avalanche danger HIGH on upper elevation, wind loaded slopes. All other terrain has a CONSIDERABLE danger. There will be three types of avalanches.
  1. Smaller avalanches of wind drifted snow should be happening naturally today.
  2. Avalanches may break much deeper in the snowpack on buried weak layers. These larger slides will be deadly and make for dangerous avalanche conditions.
  3. At all elevations and aspects, the new snow will continue accumulating today and should easily produce shallow avalanches.
Low
Moderate
Considerable
High
Extreme
Learn how to read the forecast here
Weather and Snow
Yesterday temperatures warmed to near 40 degrees F at low elevations and near 30 degrees on Abajo Peak with heavy, wet snow falling during the day.
Overnight snowfall continued and temperatures started slowly dropping around midnight.
This morning as of 6 a.m. a total of 9-14 inches of heavy snow has accumulated and temperatures range from 30 degrees to 20 degrees. Winds shifted from the south to the west overnight. I suspect that wind sensors coated in rime ice and under-reporting wind speeds. Winds are likely averaging 20-30 mph and gusting 40 mph or higher.
Today snowfall should continue with another foot of snow falling. Temperatures should continue dropping and be in the upper teens by late afternoon. Strong winds should continue blowing from the west today.

Snotel totals at Buckboard Flat (8924')
Snotel totals at Camp Jackson (8858')
Wind, temperature, and humidity on Abajo Peak (11,000')
National Weather Service point forecast.
Recent Avalanches
On Saturday we found a massive natural avalanche on Pre-Laurel Peak that ran into Horse Creek in the La Sals. It was 6-12 feet deep and over 2500 feet wide and broke about 6 inches above the ground. See more pictures HERE. This slope had been loaded by strong SW winds on Thursday & Friday when it likely occurred.
This avalanche is a major red flag and nature's way of warning us that similar avalanches can occur. They will be most likely on slopes with wind-drifted snow. The combined weight of new snow and wind drifted snow has added a lot of stress to slopes. The key to triggering an avalanche like this is tickling the slope in a thin spot sometimes near rocks or other features we can't see. The point is that you or others can typically ride on a slope and put many tracks on it. It won't avalanche until someone finds the wrong spot.
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Additional Information
Carry appropriate rescue gear: beacon, probe, shovel, and choose where you ride based on the avalanche forecast for the day!
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 forecast is from the U.S.D.A. Forest Service, which is solely responsible for its content. This forecast describes general avalanche conditions and local variations always occur.

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