Forecast for the Moab Area Mountains

Issued by Eric Trenbeath for Saturday, January 5, 2019 - 6:38am
With a storm on the way, expect the avalanche danger to rise by tomorrow!
The avalanche danger remains MODERATE on steep slopes that have recent deposits of wind drifted snow. Wind slabs continue to be found in unusual places on slopes facing W-S-SE, and at mid elevations. Avoid slopes with a smooth rounded appearance or that show signs of instability such as cracking in the snow surface. There also remains an isolated, or MODERATE danger for avalanches stepping down 2'-4' deep into buried, persistent weak layers of loose, sugary, faceted snow. Northerly facing slopes with steep, rocky, and more radical terrain are the most suspect for this type of avalanche.
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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.
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Weather and Snow
South winds have been on the increase overnight and are averaging 20-25 mph with gusts into the 30's. 10,000' temps are near 30 degrees. Today, look for increasing clouds as a Pacific storm system on a southwest flow moves into our area. We'll see moderate SW ridge top winds and high temps in the low 30's at 10,000'. Snowfall should begin around midnight and continue throughout the day tomorrow. It looks like about 6"-12" are possible.
Yesterday was very warm in the mountains with high temps at Geyser Pass Trailhead breaking 40 degrees. Winds throughout the week have also wreaked havoc on the snow surface in exposed terrain. Today you will need to stick the most sheltered, shady slopes to find soft snow.
Dave Garcia was out and about yesterday and sent in this observation.
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.
Avalanche Problem #1
Wind Drifted Snow
Areas of wind drifted snow continue to be problematic and I'm still getting reports of collapsing and cracking in recently formed slabs. Winds have been erratic and forceful throughout the week, and a northeasterly component has been dominant. These winds have caused slabs to form in unusual places- - on the south and west sides of the compass, and further down slope than usual. Continue to be on the lookout for newly formed wind slabs. Avoid slopes with a smooth rounded appearance, or that show signs of instability such as cracking in the snow surface.
Dave Garcia sent in this pic of cracking in wind drifted snow that he observed on Thursday, on a westerly aspect around 10,500'.
Avalanche Problem #2
Persistent Weak Layer
With our poor snowpack structure, the possibility remains for triggering an avalanche on a buried persistent weak layer of loose, sugary, faceted snow. This is primarily a low probability, but high consequence situation where a triggered avalanche could release between 2'-4' deep. The danger is most acute in areas of steep, rocky, north facing terrain that has a weak, sugary, underlying snowpack.
Additional Information
Matt Hebberd from the Lower Utah Nordic Alliance (LUNA) was up yesterday and groomed all trails with classic track from Gold Basin to Geyser Pass. Thanks Matt!
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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