Forecast for the Moab Area Mountains

Eric Trenbeath
Issued by Eric Trenbeath for
Friday, March 29, 2024
Most terrain has LOW danger. An isolated or MODERATE danger exists for human triggered avalanches involving slabs of wind drifted snow, primarily on steep, upper elevation slopes that face NW-NE-SE. The danger includes both deeper drifts that formed earlier in the week, as well as shallow, recent deposits of wind drifted snow.
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Special Announcements
Road Conditions: The Geyser Pass Road is plowed and is mostly down to the dirt. It gets muddy and sloppy later in the day.
Grooming: Trails were packed into Gold Basin Wednesday.

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Weather and Snow
6:00 a.m. Snow and Weather Data
24 Hour Snow 0" 72 Hour Snow 1" Season Total Snow 182" Depth at Gold Basin 65"
Winds on Pre-Laurel Peak: SW 15-25 Temp 28° F Percent of Normal: 134%

The story is the wind. After cranking in the 20's-30's all day yesterday, SW winds backed off a little overnight but that shouldn't last long. Today, look for increasing SW winds, cloudy skies, and warm temperatures as a low pressure trough off the California coast streams moisture into the region on a SW flow. Winds will continue to blast on Saturday with ridge top gusts as high as 50 mph. Precipitation during this period will largely be focused on points north but by Sunday, the southern low moves on shore hoepfully bringing us some snow, and yes, more wind to our area.
General Conditions
I don't have any reports from the backcountry yesterday, but it's safe to say that the powder party has wound down. Warm temperatures and strong SW winds have undoubtedly taken a toll on conditions. Dedicated powderhounds who want to brave today's flat light and wind, can probably still find some soft snow on sheltered northerly aspects but expect to be navigating a host of wind and breakable sun crusts in pursuit. You'll also have to remain on the lookout for errant slabs of wind drifted snow, primarily on upper elevation, northerly aspects, but with these wind speeds, you may also find some isolated, shallow slabs down low.
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
Slabs of wind drifted snow, both old and new are about your only avalanche concern out there right now. Deeper wind drifts that formed earlier in the week have largely stabilized, but there may be some isolated slabs that remain sensitive to the weight of a skier or rider. Approach steep slopes that have a smooth, rounded, or pillowy appearance with caution, especially in areas of consequential terrain.
With south facing surfaces crusted over, there isn't a lot of snow available for transport, but the strong winds we've seen are capable of eroding these crusts, stripping snow from southerly aspects, and depositing it on to northerly facing slopes. Look for fresh deposits of wind drifted snow on the leeward sides of ridge crests and terrain features such as gully walls and sub-ridges. Stiff slabs may sound or feel hollow underneath, and cracking is a sign of instability.
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.