Observation: Moab

Observation Date
02/24/2017
Observer Name
Dave Garcia

Region:

Location Name or Route
Laurel Highway > Gold Miner's
Weather
Sky
Overcast
Precipitation
Moderate Snowfall
Wind Direction
West
Wind Speed
Light
Weather Comments
Cold day with single digits in the high elevations. Light winds from the west were not strong enough to blow snow around. Snow was intermittent, light to sometimes moderate. Even saw the sun for about 20 minutes today before another round of light snow.
Snow Characteristics
New Snow Depth
7"
New Snow Density
Low
Snow Surface Conditions
Powder
Snow Characteristics Comments
About 2 inches of new snow over night, bringing storm totals to around 7 inches in the upper elevations. New snow is low density, makes for nice skiing. On south and west aspects it is firm underneath and you definitely are hitting bottom under the light density new snow.
Red Flags
Red Flags
Wind Loading
Poor Snowpack Structure
Red Flags Comments
As mentioned in today's forecast wind loading is a concern on aspects facing NW through east. At times the visibility was good enough today to see into the upper parts of middle snow and red snow cirques, and also the summit of Tuk No. As expected there are large, fresh wind drifts widely distributed across these slopes. Wind loading was also visible on the NE faces of upper Horse Creek. A quick pit on a N facing slope revealed a poor snowpack structure. More on that below.
Avalanche Problem #1
Type
Wind Slab
Trend
Same
Problem #1 Comments
Fresh wind drifts on slopes facing NW through east should be avoided. The winds were light today and were not contributing to this problem. I would expect this problem to remain the same for at least another day, we'll see what the winds do tomorrow.
Snow Profile
Aspect
North
Elevation
11000
Slope Angle
27
Comments
Pit Details: Aspect: 334 (NNW), Slope Angle 27 degrees, Elevation 11,000 Pit Depth: 84cm. Above in the red flags sections I choose "poor snowpack structure." I chose this pit location because I expected to possibly find some weak layers here. In the photos below you can see the interfaces between the different layers of snow. There is faceted snow in each of these interfaces. At 34cm down there is a 1F hard slab about 27cm thick. This is sitting on top of a facet/crust/facet interface seen at the bottom of the pit. Lots of facets at the bottom, so I expected these layers to fail under compression. Two side by side compression tests produced no results. (CTN) I was originally going to avoid the larger, steeper part of this slope adjacent to the pit, but I decided to ski it based on these pit results. Skied slope angles in the low 30's adjacent to this pit. It should also be noted that even though this slope is north facing, it was not wind loaded today.
Got an easy hand shear on a west facing slope in Laurel Meadows. A 1F slab sitting on a very thin layer of facets on a firm bed surface. The slab is seen in the photo behind the ski poles sitting on top of the new snow surface. Also got moderate hand shears in Upper Julie's (W) and Prelude (NW) on this same layer. This layer did not react to a large group of skiers (6 to 8) that skied the funnel today.
A couple photos of today's snow pit. The layers of containing facets are outlined. The second photo is a better view of the bottom layers that I was concerned about. The 1F slab is seen below the crystal card.
Today's Observed Danger Rating
Moderate
Tomorrows Estimated Danger Rating
Moderate
Snow Profile Coordinates