Forecast for the Moab Area Mountains

Issued by Eric Trenbeath for Saturday, February 9, 2019 - 6:53am
The avalanche danger remains CONSIDERABLE on steep, upper elevation, wind drifted slopes that face W-N-E. Human triggered avalanches involving wind drifted snow, and buried, persistent weak layers, are likely in these areas and natural avalanches are possible. On mid and lower elevation, northerly facing terrain, the avalanche danger is MODERATE, and human triggered avalanches involving wind drifted snow, and buried, persistent weak layers are possible. On slopes facing SW-S-SE the avalanche danger is MODERATE to LOW.
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Special Announcements
The body of a snowmobiler buried by an avalanche east of Beaver, Utah near Circleville Mountain was recovered yesterday. Our deepest sympathies go out to the family and friends of the victim. Here is the preliminary report.
Weather and Snow
High clouds are spreading over the region ahead of a weak system that will affect areas to the north. Southerly winds for the past 24 hours have blown in the 35 mph range along ridge tops and they will continue to do so throughout the day. 10,000' temps are in the low teens with Gold Basin reporting 10 degrees, while Geyser Pass Trailhead (9600'), oddly enough, is coming in fairly warm at 23 degrees. We'll see partly cloudy skies today with continued strong southerly winds and blowing snow at the upper elevations. High temps will be in the low 20's.
Folks out and about yesterday continue to report excellent powder conditions, even on southerly aspects, in sheltered locations at low and mid elevations. Upper elevation, wind exposed terrain is either scoured or wind damaged, or dangerously drifted. Check out these observations from Reed Kennard, and Travis Nauman.
Base depth in Gold Basin: 62"
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.
Lots of blowing and drifting snow up there! Reed Kennard photo.
Recent Avalanches
A significant natural wind slab avalanche more than 100' wide was reported in Talking Mountain Cirque yesterday.
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Avalanche Problem #1
Wind Drifted Snow
Type
Location
Likelihood
Size
Description
Strong southerly winds continue to blow and drift snow on to upper elevation, northerly aspects, and human triggered avalanches are likely on steep, wind drifted slopes in these areas. Natural avalanches are also possible. Be alert to recent deposits of wind drifted snow on the lee sides of upper elevation ridge crests and terrain features. They are often recognizable by their smooth, rounded appearance, and they may sound, and feel hollow underneath. Cracking in the snow surface is a sign of instability.
Avalanche Problem #2
Persistent Weak Layer
Type
Location
Likelihood
Size
Description
Snow stability test are starting to show varying degrees of reactivity with regard to buried, persistent weak layers. Where the snowpack is deepest, these layers are showing signs of healing, and Travis Naumnan was unable to produce any results yesterday, even with what he described as a "gorilla slap" to the column. On the other hand, I found the snow to be very reactive earlier in the week. Our primary layer of concern is the early December snow that has turned into weak, sugary facets on top of the October crust. With 21" of new snow, and almost 2" of water weight since then, I'm going to assume this layer is guilty until proven innocent. This means assuming that deep and dangerous, human triggered avalanches are possible, primarily on steep slopes at mid and upper elevations that face NW-N-E. The only way to know for sure will be to perform your own stability test on a slope by slope basis.
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: eric@utahavalanchecenter.org.
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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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