Forecast for the Moab Area Mountains

Issued by Eric Trenbeath for Wednesday, December 5, 2018 - 7:29am
The avalanche danger remains CONSIDERABLE today in steep, 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. In addition fresh deposits of wind drifted snow will complicate the issue. Avoid slopes that have a smooth rounded appearance, and look for signs of instability such as cracking in the snow surface. Stick to low angle, or low elevation terrain and slopes that face the southern half of the compass where you'll find Moderate to Low danger.
Low
Moderate
Considerable
High
Extreme
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Special Announcements
Grand County plowed the road to Geyser Pass Trailhead on Monday. It is snowpacked and all wheel drive is advised.
Weather and Snow
If you weren't out in the mountains yesterday I'm afraid you missed what may have been some of the more sublime conditions of the season with fresh powder, sunny skies, cold temps and light winds. Today will be a different story. WSW winds have been on the increase overnight averaging close to 25 mph with gusting into the 40's. Today will see continued blustery conditions and gathering clouds ahead of a storm system that will track through to the south tomorrow. High temps at 10,000' will be in the low to mid 20's.
It's officially game on for winter recreation in the La Sals but it's also dangerous. Almost 30" of snow since Friday has been dumped on top of our weak, fragile base and it isn't rocket science to know that this has created an unstable situation.
The following video was shot around noon on Sunday, an additional 13" of snow fell through the remainder of the day.
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.
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Avalanche Problem #1
Persistent Weak Layer
Type
Location
Likelihood
Size
Description
Almost 30" of snow since Friday has been added to persistent weak layers in the snowpack. These layers of weak, sugary, faceted snow are prevalent on any slope that has held snow since October. Basically any slope above about 10,000' that faces NW-N-E, and this type of terrain needs to be avoided. Human triggered avalanches up to 3' deep are likely in these areas.
This snowpit was dug around noon on Sunday, an additional foot of snow now sits on top.
Avalanche Problem #2
Wind Drifted Snow
Type
Location
Likelihood
Size
Description
Blustery winds with plenty of snow available for transport will create fresh deposits of wind drifted snow. Look for tell signs such as smooth rounded pillows, or cracking in the snow surface. A triggered wind slab will most certainly step down into buried, persistent weak layers causing a much deeper avalanche. Avoid slopes with wind drifted snow.

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