Forecast for the Moab Area Mountains

Issued by Eric Trenbeath for Sunday, January 6, 2019 - 6:38am
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. Additionally, older, hard wind slabs formed on slopes facing W-S-SE, earlier in the week. 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.
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Weather and Snow
Light snow began to fall just after midnight with about 3" of accumulation as of 7:00 a.m, But the real story is the wind. Cranking out of the SE, 12 hr average is 30 mph with gusts as high as 60. Snowfall should ramp up this morning and continue throughout the day with 6"-8" possible. SW winds should taper off somewhat but will continue to blow in the moderate to strong range along ridge tops. High temps today will only climb up a few more degrees than what they already are. It's currently 28 degrees at the Geyser Pass Trailhead, and 18 on Pre Laurel Peak.
You'll want to stick to sheltered locations today, if not for the best snow, then to keep from getting blasted by the wind. Exposed surfaces have sustained considerable damage from wind, sun and warm temps. Conditions will improve throughout the day as snow piles up.
Brian Hays was out 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
Recent deposits of wind drifted snow will be your primary concern and they will be building rapidly today on slopes that face the north half of the compass. Additionally, older wind slabs that formed earlier in the week may still be problematic. Erratic, NE winds deposited these slabs in unusual places - on the south and west sides of the compass, and further down slope than usual and most of these will now be covered in new snow. You will need to be on your toes today and avoid steep slopes that show signs of wind drifted snow.
Avalanche Problem #2
Persistent Weak Layer
The new snow will add additional stress to our weak snowpack increasing the odds for triggering an avalanche on a buried persistent weak layer of loose, sugary, faceted snow. This danger is most prevalent in areas of steep, rocky, north facing terrain, especially where wind drifted.
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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