Observation: Moab

Observation Date
Observer Name
Michelle Leber, The Jim Webster, and Maggie Nielsen
Location Name or Route
Trans La Sal TH and down the Road Runs
Light Snowfall
Wind Speed
Weather Comments
The temperature hovered around the mid 20's between 9200' and 9600'. Clouds varied with cumulus clouds obscuring the peaks transitioning into cirrus clouds and then to clear skies by 4pm. Winds were calm and we didn't observe any spindrift high up off the peaks either- a rare sight up in the La Sals and adds an almost eerie feeling up there. The scouring appeared minimal on the peaks and shoulders since the last snowfall and we imagine it won't be long before this latest snowfall gets blown around again. We had very light snowfall around 2pm that didn't add much to the ENORMOUS amount of snow that had previously fallen in the past 3 days.
Snow Characteristics
New Snow Depth
New Snow Density
Snow Surface Conditions
Snow Characteristics Comments
At first glance, it appeared as though surface hoar had begun to form with the glimmering on the snow surface catching our eyes. Upon closer inspection, we found perfectly intact dendrites resting on the snow surface, another sign that the wind had yet to affect that general area. The top 12" appeared very light with ski penetration around 6-8" deep. However, below this new snow was a much denser layer that made quick work of packing a snowball. We observed this layer on the drive up as the snowcat's tracks stamped perfectly into the road and became very hard quite quickly. We didn't stop to dig a pit today but it was obvious that the top 12" was reactive on a shovel shear test and had a tendency to easily propagate cracks around the skis as we toured. Small test slopes showed this reactivity as well. It will be interesting to watch how things adjust as the new snow settles.
Red Flags
Red Flags
Heavy Snowfall
Red Flags Comments
32" (3.2" of SWE) in the past 72 hours is a very significant load to add in a short amount of time. We're happy but we're cautious. The cracking around the skis and the sluffing of the new snow is definitely something to look out for as Dave nailed it on the head in today's forecast. It is sensitive. Things are getting harder to keep track of as they get buried deeper in the snow but snow layers can take a long time to transition to a more stable place with one another. Although we're seeing strengthening in some layers does not mean we don't have other potential problems to think about under the snow surface.
Avalanche Problem #1
New Snow
Decreasing Danger
Problem #1 Comments
Cracking and sluffing in the top 12" was apparent in our travels all day. We didn't even get on anything steeper than 25 degrees and it was clear to see! We expect this danger to decrease unless we get the potential snow on Thursday Night/Friday.
Holy cow today was a bit of chaos getting up there! Thank goodness for Gavin and his snowcat for helping us get up the road and pulling some stuck folks out! The reality for us was that there was so much snow you needed steeper terrain to make turns on top of it. However, we weren't willing to travel into that steeper terrain quite yet so it made for amazing trail breaking conditions both up and down hil for the most part haha. A couple of great turns we think will get even better as things settle out over the next few days. Don't miss it!
Today's Observed Danger Rating
Tomorrows Estimated Danger Rating