Forecast for the Moab Area Mountains

Issued by Eric Trenbeath for Thursday, February 7, 2019 - 6:26am
The avalanche danger is CONSIDERABLE today and human triggered avalanches are likely on steep, wind drifted slopes. The greatest danger will be found on slopes facing NW-N-E, where deep drifts are overlying a weak snowpack. Avalanches breaking down into buried persistent weak layers are likely in these areas. NW winds today may also deposit fresh wind drifts on to southerly aspects. Look for recent deposits of wind drifted snow on the lee sides of terrain features like sub ridges and gully walls in the upper elevations. Most mid and low elevation, south facing terrain has a MODERATE danger.
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Special Announcements
Grand County will be plowing today. Expect the road to be closed for several hours. I do not advise trying to beat the plow, the road is very drifted in and many vehicles were stuck yesterday.
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
The mountains picked up another 3"- 4" late in the day yesterday bringing our storm total up to around a foot in Gold Basin. Since Sunday we've had 21" at around 2" of SWE. Winds finally backed off and swung around to the NW yesterday evening. 12 hour averages are 15-20 mph along ridge tops. The story today will be the cold. Temps are currently right around 0 and will only warm up to about 10 degrees. NW winds in the 15-25 mph range will keep the chill on.
It was an exhilarating winter day in the mountains yesterday with cold temps, blustery winds up high, and excellent powder snow below treeline. Chris Jacobsen and I took out the sleds and found deep powder conditions for carving and turning, especially over on the east side of the range where more than 2' of snow has piled up. I also received reports of excellent skiing in the woods from Dave Garcia and company, read his report here. With all the new snow, wind, and a weak underlying snowpack, you'll want to stick to sheltered, low angle, terrain for the safest, and best conditions.
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.
Avalanche Problem #1
Wind Drifted Snow
Sustained strong southerly winds have been blowing and drifting snow for the past several days, and human triggered wind slab avalanches are likely on steep, wind drifted slopes. 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 terrain.
Avalanche Problem #2
Persistent Weak Layer
The new snow doesn't appear to have caused any natural avalanches down to our buried persistent weak layers, but snow pits and stability tests conclude that they are very much alive and well. Our primary layer of concern is the early December snow that has turned into 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 21" of new snow, and almost 2" of water weight since then, I'm going to assume these layers are guilty until proven innocent. This means assuming that deep and dangerous, human triggered avalanches are likely, primarily on steep slopes at mid and upper elevations that face NW-N-E.
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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