Forecast for the Moab Area Mountains

Dave Garcia
Issued by Dave Garcia for
Wednesday, March 27, 2024
Most slopes offer a LOW avalanche danger today. A MODERATE danger is found above treeline, where recently deposited slabs of wind-drifted snow exist. These slabs will be sensitive to the weight of skiers and riders. If are looking to ski in the alpine, you need to be able to recognize and avoid these fat, pillowy, wavy-looking deposits of wind-drifted snow.
Today is going to be a beautiful sunny powder day with great turning and riding. Don't forget that heightened avalanche conditions exist on specific terrain features and human-triggered avalanches remain POSSIBLE.
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Special Announcements
Road Conditions: The Geyser Pass Road was plowed on Tuesday. The road remains slick, 4x4 and good tires recommended.
Grooming: Trails are buried by the new snow.

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Weather and Snow
6:00 a.m. Snow and Weather Data
24 Hour Snow 1" 72 Hour Snow 14" Season Total Snow 182" Depth at Gold Basin 67"
Winds on Pre-Laurel Peak: NW 14 - 17 Temp 16° F Percent of Normal: 131%

It is a cold, wintry morning in Gold Basin with temperatures sitting at 16 degrees. Today will be sunny, with a high of 22 degrees and winds will blow out of the WNW at 15 MPH. Overnight temperatures will drop to 18 degrees and winds will blow out of the West at 10-15 MPH. After midnight, the winds will shift to the SSW and blow 20-25 MPH. Thursday will be breezy and slightly warmer, with highs around 29 degrees and winds blowing 30-35 MPH out of the SSW. The end of the week shows a gradual warming trend with increasing SW winds into Saturday. The weather looks to turn unsettled again Sunday into early next week, with a promising storm affecting the area, bringing more mountain snow and valley rain.
General Conditions
The skiing and riding conditions remain absolutely stellar, with 14" of new snow since Sunday morning. Yesterday's cold temperatures, cloudy skies, and light snow showers preserved the cold dry powder. Today will be a beautiful day of powder skiing under sunny skies. Solar aspects took a big shot of sunshine on Monday, so you'll want to head to Northerly aspects for deep, soft snow. The primary avalanche concern is slabs of wind-drifted snow that exist in alpine terrain. These slabs formed on Sunday when gusty NW winds accompanied the snow storm. Winds have remained elevated out of the NW and these slabs continue to build. In our travels yesterday, we observed blowing and drifting snow depositing fresh slabs onto leeward aspects. Skiers and riders will need to avoid areas of recently wind-drifted snow to stay safe out there today. Remember that most accidents happen on beautiful sunny powder days just like today, be sure to keep your avalanche eyeballs peeled and be on the lookout for areas of unstable snow.
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
Click here to see the La Sal avalanche database.
Avalanche Problem #1
Wind Drifted Snow
Winds have remained elevated out of the NW for several days and we have observed recently deposited slabs of wind-drifted snow on many slopes above treeline. On Tuesday, we observed continued blowing and drifting snow. Some of these drifts are 18-24" deep and can be found around the compass, even on the Southerly aspects. Southerly aspects have been top-loaded, while Northerly aspects have been cross-loaded. Sustained Northwest winds are somewhat abnormal for the La Sals, and expect to find drifts in unusual places. The bulls-eye location for this problem seems to be NE-E-SE.
A note about near-treeline terrain: recent wind-drifted snow is not widespread near the treeline, but some of our near-treeline terrain behaves like alpine terrain, meaning it is subjected to the same loading patterns. If you are getting into big, steep, open slopes near the treeline, continue to be on the lookout for wind-drifted snow.
In the photo below, you can see some wind-loaded slopes in the background behind the skier. The skier is using a subtle aspect change to avoid the wind drifts. Aspect is key right now.
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.