March 27, 2013
Weather: March 20th through March 27th
High temperature: 49°F (March 24th)
Low temperature: 10°F (March 24th)
New snow: 2 inches
Total settled snow depth: 26 inches as of March 27th
Skiing Conditions and Weather: Seasonal temperatures and dry conditions prevailed in the Tuolumne Meadows area this week. The little bit of snow that we did get early in the week helped to smooth the snow surface and give some grip to the waxless skis. Now is the time for ski touring as conditions are set up for covering the miles and expedient travel. Only in the shadiest of areas is the snow still a little punchy, otherwise the snow is supportable during most of the day. That being said, the snow depth is shrinking fast so you better get it now! The road is dry from the gate in Lee Vining Canyon to the park boundary at Tioga Pass so visitors approaching from the east should anticipate walking (or riding a bike!) to the snow at Tioga Pass. There are several miles of dry pavement between Tioga Pass and Crane Flat in the vicinity of Gin Flat, otherwise coverage is still good on the Tioga Road in Yosemite Park.
Avalanche and Snowpack Conditions: For the latest avalanche advisory for this area go to www.esavalanche.org for the Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center and click on advisory. The ESAC site is updated several times a week and more often during weather events.
The avalanche hazard in the Tuolumne area is low. The avalanche concerns this week will be from wet snow slides which can occur on steep slopes during the melt period of the day. We observed numerous wet slides around Tenaya Lake this week that presumably occurred during the warm spell that occurred two weeks ago. Travelers should pay attention to overnight temperatures and be wary of steep terrain on any days that it does not freeze overnight.
Wildlife: The drumming of the Williamson sapsucker and other woodpeckers can be heard at dawn and dusk all around the forests. The northern pygmy owl is still being heard in the Tuolumne Meadows area on occasion and was heard during our snow survey at Snow Flat. The resident brown creepers, mountain chickadees, common ravens, and Clark's nutcrackers are still the most commonly seen and heard.
Questions: The Tuolumne Meadows Ski Hut is open. There is an ample supply of firewood and 10 bunks that are available on a first come, first served basis. You can call the Tuolumne Meadows Ranger Station at 209/372-8734. If you leave a message we will get back to you the first chance we get. Power and phones are frequently out of service. Contact the wilderness office at 209/372-0740 with any questions or concerns if you are unable to reach the ranger station. Come prepared; don't count on electricity or phone service at the ski hut.
Happy Ski Touring!
Laura and Rob Pilewski
Tuolumne Meadows Winter Rangers
Skier looking for turns, Elizabeth Lake area March 22, 2013.