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Forecast for the Moab Area Mountains

Eric Trenbeath
Issued by Eric Trenbeath for
Saturday, February 10, 2024
The avalanche danger is CONSIDERABLE on steep slopes that face W-N-E-SE and human triggered avalanches are likely. The danger is most acute on slopes facing NW-N-E where recent and wind drifted snow has overloaded buried persistent weak layers deep in the snowpack. Un-survivable, human triggered avalanches 3'-6' deep are likely in these areas.

A MODERATE danger exists on SW-S facing slopes, and on all slopes facing the south side of the compass at low elevations. In these areas, avalanches involving recent and wind drifted snow are possible.
Learn how to read the forecast here
Special Announcements
Grand Country Search and Rescue will be conducting a training exercise today. Please be prepared for traffic and much activity between the winter trailhead and Geyser Pass.
Road Conditions: The Geyser Pass Road was plowed yesterday.
Grooming: Trails will be covered in fresh snow today and will be taking quite a beating from GCSAR training. LUNA will be cleaning up this afternoon.
A pair of Black Diamond ski poles was left at the trailhead on Thursday. They are by the winter trailhead trailer.
Weather and Snow
6:00 a.m. Snow and Weather Data
24 Hour Snow 1" 72 Hour Snow 12" Season Total Snow 131" Depth at Gold Basin 58"
Winds on Pre-Laurel Peak: E 5-10 TempPercent of Normal: 113%

The last gasp of an active storm pattern will linger today bringing mostly cloudy skies, a slight chance for snow, and increasing NE winds that will blow between 15-20 mph along ridge tops by this afternoon. Slightly cooler than normal temps will prevail over the next few days with daytime highs up near 20° and overnight lows in the single digits as dry NW flow takes over. High pressure builds through the week with mostly sunny skies and gradually warming temperatures.
General Conditions
Close to 3' of snow has fallen over the past week and conditions are excellent. They are also very dangerous, particularly on northerly aspects where recent and wind drifted snow over the past week have produced numerous natural avalanches stepping down into buried persistent weak layers, and at least one very large, likely human triggered avalanche. Continue to avoid avalanche terrain today on slopes facing W-N-E-SE. With about 8" of new snow on the ground yesterday morning and overall light winds, you should be able to find some good riding on SW-S facing slopes today. Above treeline, there could be some older slabs of wind drifted snow lurking around on these aspects, as well as some shallow, fresh drifts forming as the day progresses. Avoid steep slopes that have a smooth, rounded appearance, and look for signs of instability such as cracking in the snow surface.
Check out the "Week in Review" video below for skiing and avalanche highlights.
Snowpack and Weather Data
Gold Basin Storm Stake (10,000')
Gold Basin SNOTEL site (10,000')
SNOTEL site near Geyser Pass Winter Trailhead (9600')
Wind Station on Pre-Laurel Peak (11,400')
NWS forecast for the La Sal Mountains.
Recent Avalanches
Many natural avalanches and one large, likely human triggered avalanche have occurred over the past week. See the full list here. In our travels up Noriega's Ridge on Thursday, we observed a large natural avalanche in the Pencil Chute in upper Dory Canyon, as well as a deep failing avalanche in the Corkscrew Glades.
This avalanche in the Pencil Chute propagated widely to the observer's right in upper Dory Canyon.
Avalanche Problem #1
Persistent Weak Layer
Persistent weak layers that formed in November and December have reared their ugly heads producing numerous deep and dangerous avalanches over the past week. Human triggered avalanches failing on these weak layers remain likely on steep slopes facing W-N-E-SE. On steep, northerly aspects, human triggered avalanches are very likely. These are very dangerous avalanches, and would most likely be unsurvivable. We simply need to let the dust settle so to speak and see how the weak layer adjusts to this recent load before getting into any steep terrain. Stick to low angle slopes (less than 30 degrees) for safe and fun riding today.
Avalanche Problem #2
New Snow
Up to 3' of snow has fallen over the past week, with another 8" since Thursday night. Human triggered avalanches within the recent snow remain possible on steep slopes on all aspects today. But by far, the greatest concern remains on steep slopes facing the north side of the compass where winds have drifted snow into slabs 1'-2' thick adding stress to buried persistent weak layers in the snowpack. Deep and dangerous avalanches remain likely in these areas and this terrain should be avoided.
Additional Information
Want some more insight into the La Sal Mountains as well as the communal impacts of a tragic avalanche? Check out the latest UAC podcast with forecaster Eric Trenbeath where he discusses the range, it's often treacherous snowpack, and how the devastating avalanche in February, 1992, affected the Moab community.
Our avalanche beacon checker sign and beacon training park are up and running. A huge thanks to Talking Mountain Yurts for sponsoring those this season!
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General Announcements
This forecast is from the U.S.D.A. Forest Service, which is solely responsible for its content. This forecast describes general avalanche conditions and local variations always occur.