Forecast for the Moab Area Mountains

Issued by Eric Trenbeath for Friday, January 11, 2019 - 6:49am
The avalanche danger remains CONSIDERABLE - new snow, and wind drifted snow have dangerously overloaded a weak snowpack, and human triggered avalanches on steep slopes facing W-N-E are likely. At upper elevations, a high likelihood for human triggered avalanches may also exist on SE facing aspects. Backcountry travelers need to possess excellent route finding skills and know how to avoid steep, avalanche prone terrain - this includes not usually recognized areas such as gullys, steep banks, or the toes of moraines. Slopes do not need to be that tall to bury you.
Learn how to read the forecast here
Special Announcements
We will be offering a Backcountry 101 avalanche course on Feb 8, 9. It's a great way to up your avalanche knowledge with both classroom, and hands on field instruction. Click here for more details and to register.
We've installed an avalanche beacon tester and a beacon training park at the Geyser Pass Trailhead! Be sure you are beeping and practice your rescue skills!
Thanks to UAC volunteer Ed Grote, ex La Sal forecaster Max Forgensi, and LUNA volunteer Matt Hebberd for helping out with this. You guys rock!
The new UAC IOS mobile app is now available on the app store. Check out the new "My Weather" feature.
Check out the new free online avalanche course series developed by the Utah Avalanche Center. This is a great way to refresh your skills or prepare you for a Backcountry 101 or Level 1 class.
Weather and Snow
Skies are cloudy, NW winds are averaging 10-15 mph along ridge tops and 10,000' temps are in the high teens. A light dusting of snow has fallen in town and not much more is expected in the mountains. Today look for scattered snow showers before noon with sunny skies developing later today. SW winds will increase to 10-20 mph before shifting to the NE. Daytime highs will be near 20 degrees. A strong ridge builds over the weekend with what looks like a more active pattern next week.
In my travels yesterday I was still observing pretty wide spread collapsing of the snowpack, a sure sign of instability. Sunday's storm brought 12" of dense snow to the mountains, accompanied by strong SW winds and conditions are definitely "upside down" with lower density snow underneath the most recent snow. Conditions are soft in sheltered areas but a bit tricky due to the inverted nature. SW winds and a strong sun over the past couple of days have taken a toll on the snow surface in exposed areas ut you can still find soft snow in sheltered terrain. The new snow has greatly improved coverage and we now have a 38" base in Gold Basin.
Lots of great observations came in this week, See the list here.
New snow totals in Gold Basin (10,000')
Snow totals at the Geyser Pass Trailhead (9600')
Wind, temperature, and humidity on Pre Laurel Peak (11,700')
National Weather Service point forecast.
Recent Avalanches
Plow crews alerted me to a few slides on road cuts on the north side of the range above Miner's Basin. They are of interest because we don't often have avalanche problems at lower elevations.
Avalanche Problem #1
Persistent Weak Layer
New snow and wind drifted snow have dangerously overloaded a weak snowpack, and human triggered avalanches stepping down into buried persistent weak layers of loose, sugary, faceted snow continue to be likely. These weak layers are found primarily on slopes facing the north half of the compass but the problem may wrap around further to the W and SE. Now is the time to avoid steep, avalanche prone terrain. The video below illustrates how a persistent weak layer on a NE aspect is reacting to the new snow load.
Avalanche Problem #2
Wind Drifted Snow
Southerly winds have blown and drifted snow throughout the week, and drifts of unstable snow have formed in many locations. Above treeline you may find drifts on all aspects on the lee sides of ridge crests and terrain features. Below treeline, most of the drifting will be on slopes with a northerly aspect. Avoid any stope slope that you suspect may be wind loaded - look for telltale signs such as a smooth rounded appearance, or cracking in the snow surface.
Additional Information
Matt was up grooming again yesterday and cross country skiing offers a safe alternative for visiting the mountains!
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:
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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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