Forecast for the Moab Area Mountains

Issued by Eric Trenbeath for Saturday, December 1, 2018 - 6:52am
The avalanche danger is CONSIDERABLE on mid to upper elevation terrain that faces NW-N-E, and human triggered avalanches breaking down into buried, persistent weak layers are likely in these areas.
With NW winds on the increase today there will be a rising MODERATE danger for avalanches involving wind drifted snow. Look for signs of instability such as cracking in the snow surface and avoid terrain that has a smooth rounded appearance. Below about 10,000' the avalanche danger is generally LOW.
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Weather and Snow
Light snow continued through the day yesterday, increasing last night before tapering off around 4:00 a.m. All told, a decent storm that put down 10" at 10,000' and I'd estimate around 14" up high. Overnight WNW winds were remarkably well behaved averaging in the single digits with gusts to 15 mph. Temps have plummeted into the low teens. It's going to be a cold one up there today with clearing skies and increasing NW winds blowing 15-25 mph along ridge tops. High temps at 10,000' will be in the mid teens.
Before this storm the existing base varied from 18"-30" above 10,000' on NW-N-E aspects. Due south facing slopes were mostly bare ground, but some snow remained on SE and westerly facing slopes. The added new snow is still not enough to turn on the green light for winter recreation but we're getting closer. If you are out and about be very cautious of buried hazards such as rocks and deadfall.
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
Persistent Weak Layer
Our biggest concern today will be triggering an avalanche that breaks down into buried persistent weak layers. On northerly aspects above 10,000' 18-24" of snow has been sitting on the ground since mid-October. This snow has been been deteriorating into weak, sugary, faceted snow near the ground, and at different levels in the snowpack. In some areas, the entire snowpack is made up of loose, sugary, faceted snow. This faceted snow makes a precarious base for the new snow that is piled on top. Today you'll want to avoid steep slopes above about 10,000' that face NW-N-E as human triggered avalanches up to 2' deep or more are likely in these areas.
Avalanche Problem #2
Wind Drifted Snow
Blowing and drifting snow will create new wind slabs along the leeward sides of ridge crests and terrain features in upper elevation, wind exposed terrain. Avoid steep slopes that have recent deposits of wind drifted snow, and look for signs of instability such as cracking in the snow surface.
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