Forecast for the Moab Area Mountains

Issued by Eric Trenbeath for Wednesday, February 6, 2019 - 6:21am
BLOWING AND DRIFTING SNOW HAVE CREATED DANGEROUS AVALANCHE CONDITIONS! The avalanche danger is HIGH today on steep, wind drifted slopes that face W-N-SE at mid and upper elevations. Natural and human triggered avalanches are likely in these areas. Most other terrain has a CONSIDERABLE danger with the exception of low elevation, south facing terrain where the danger is MODERATE. Stay off of and out from under steep terrain. Backcountry travelers need to have excellent route finding and snow stability analysis skills. Travel in avalanche terrain is not recommended.
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Special Announcements
Grand County will not be plowing until tomorrow morning. Expect to find 4"-6" on the road with some deep drifting.
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. Much thanks to Moab Gear Trader for sponsoring this course! Please visit them for all of your winter backcountry needs.
Weather and Snow
Another 6" of snow has fallen overnight bringing storm totals since yesterday morning up to 9" in Gold Basin with likely a foot or more up high. Strong southerly winds continue to rage averaging 35 mph with gusts in the 50's, and 10,000' temps are in the low teens. NWS is calling for continuing snow showers today with another 3"-5" possible. High temps will be in the mid teens with continued strong SW winds.
16" of snow, at 1.5" of Snow Water Equivalent (SWE) has fallen since Sunday, but it has been furiously blown around and re-deposited by sustained southerly winds in excess of 30 mph. Above treeline expect wind blasted surfaces on southerly aspects punctuated by isolated wind drifts. Deep drifting will be found on northerly aspects. The strong winds will have penetrated open terrain at mid and lower elevations as well, and you will want to stick to sheltered, low angle terrain today.
Base depth in Gold Basin: 58"
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.
This video was shot on Sunday but it's pretty much what you are going to see today!
Avalanche Problem #1
Wind Drifted Snow
Sustained strong southerly winds have been blowing and drifting snow for the past few days, and natural and human triggered wind slab avalanches are likely. At upper elevations, you may find wind slabs on all sides of the compass on the leeward signs of terrain features. Deeper drifts will be found on slopes facing NW-NE-E. Avoid, steep, wind drifted slopes and stay out from under high, steep faces where natural releases from above are likely.
Avalanche Problem #2
Persistent Weak Layer
To be honest, I'm uncertain how the new snow will affect buried persistent weak layers in the snowpack. Stability tests over the past week have shown these layers to be mostly non-reactive however, the new load may have brought them back to life. Our primary layer of concern is the early December snow that has turned to weak, sugary facets on top of the October crust. There is also a buried layer of facets that existed near the surface before Sunday's storm. With 1.5" of water weight since then, and heavy wind loading, I'm going to assume these layers are guilty until proven innocent. This means assuming that deep and dangerous, human triggered avalanches are likely
Avalanche Problem #3
New Snow
Avalanches within the new snow will be possible on steep slopes on all aspects at mid and upper elevations.
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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