Observation: Moab

Observation Date
01/16/2017
Observer Name
Dave Garcia

Region:

Location Name or Route
Laurel Highway > Tele Gold > Gold Basin Moraines
Weather
Sky
Scattered
Wind Direction
Northeast
Wind Speed
Strong
Weather Comments
Another warm and partly sunny day. Temps were mid 30's at 10,000 ft. Winds were strong on the ridge lines out of the northeast. Down off the ridges they were mostly light.
Snow Characteristics
Snow Surface Conditions
Powder
Dense Loose
Snow Characteristics Comments
No new snow to report today. The surface conditions are holding up well and the skiing is great. The surface snow is settling, but it still skis like medium density powder in most places.
Red Flags
Red Flags
Wind Loading
Red Flags Comments
The wind is the one red flag of mention today. It has shifted and is coming from the NE. It was nuking on the peak at the weather station. Gusts over 40 mph. The upper funnel was seeing a decent amount of wind loading. On Saturday 1/14 I reported a weak snow structure in the upper funnel. Check out the pit profile from that day for details. That snow pack was seeing a good bit of wind loading today. Folks wisely avoided it today, and should tomorrow as well. Be on the lookout for fresh wind drifts on upper elevation slopes that face South and West. Mid elevation west facing slopes didn't appear to be loading as much as the upper elevation.
Avalanche Problem #1
Type
Wind Slab
Trend
Same
Problem #1 Comments
Sitting here at home, the Pre Laurel station is still showing strong winds out of the NNE. I would suspect to find similar loading patterns tomorrow as I saw today. You'll find fresh drifts on upper elevation slopes facing south and west.
Snow Profile
Aspect
East
Elevation
10200
Slope Angle
33
Comments
Pit Details: East Facing Slope, 33 degrees, 10,200 ft, total pit depth 103.5cm. This pit was on a steep rollover in the moraines in the middle part of Gold Basin. These slopes are seen to the climber's right as you ascend the Gold Basin drainage. I'm happy to report strong snow in this pit location. If you look at the pit profile you can see some thin interfaces between the layers of strong snow. These layers are mostly a mix of graupel and rounding older snow. That storm cycle that began on 1/4 put down and impressive amount of graupel in several different rounds of snowfall. This is seen in between the layers of stronger snow. Some of my pits last week were showing the graupel mixed with facets. Today it is showing the graupel mixed with rounds. This is good news. The graupel pellets will hold their shape for a long time, but it is good to see rounded grains mixed in with them. A quick shovel shear test got shears at 70.5 cm down (Q3) and 28.5 cm down (Q2). The layer at 70.5 cm reacted to a compression test CTE5 Q3. Not many taps, but the shear was irregular and rough. The layer at 28.5 cm did not react to compression testing. I was a little curious about the layer at 70.5cm so I conducted a propagation saw test. I was able to saw all the way through the weak layer and the slab on top did not move. This is a good result. The big picture here is that these test results do not indicate unstable snow in this location. I put some ski cuts on similar steep rollovers in the same area with no signs of instability as well.
This photo shows the different interfaces between the strong snow. These interfaces showed good strength in today's stability tests.
Check out this big column of strong snow I pulled out. After the layer at 70.5 failed CTE5 Q3, I couldn't get anything below it to fail. I had to work to pull out this big column that was sitting below it.
A shot of the propagation saw test. I was able to saw all the way through the suspected weak layer at 70.5 cm, and the slab on top did not move at all.
Today's Observed Danger Rating
Moderate
Tomorrows Estimated Danger Rating
Moderate
Snow Profile Coordinates