Last updated: April 12, 2017
Total settled snow depth: 102 inches (at 8,600 feet)
High temperature: 52°F (April 5)
Low temperature: -2°F (April 9)
Ski Conditions and Weather
Winter returned to the Yosemite high county this week with a moderate atmospheric river event April 7-9. We measured 26 inches of new snow and 2.68 inches of water equivalent during this storm. There were also high winds and blowing snow causing drifting, poor visibility, and wind slabs to form. Thankfully, as the storm wound down, the winds subsided and the temperatures cooled allowing for a blanket of fluffy powder snow to cover the landscape around Tuolumne Meadows. The last two days have been bluebird with calm winds making for ideal skiing. As we write the update this morning it is snowing again. With over 100 inches of snow still on the ground here at 8,600 feet it is looking like it will be a short summer season here in Tuolumne Meadows this year.
Avalanche and Snowpack Conditions
Please refer to the Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center for the avalanche advisory for this part of the Sierra Nevada.
As we move further into springtime, with such a deep snowpack, the avalanche concerns turn towards wet slides, and wind slabs on melt freeze crusts forming during periods of high winds when there is transportable snow available. Wilderness travelers should pay attention to overnight temperatures when venturing into the mountains this time of year. On any night when there is not a good freeze of the snow surface, the avalanche hazard from wet slides will increase. This typically means that the skiing will be pretty marginal as well.
We do not have any new information about conditions on the east side of Tioga Pass on the approach from Lee Vining. The most recent report from visitors was from April 5 when they reported that the steep side-hill section above the Warren Fork was still “sketchy,” and that they planned to take the alternate route down Lee Vining Canyon directly to the Poole Power Plant to avoid having to traverse that slope again. All of these conditions are very dynamic this time of year and may become easier or more difficult depending on the weather. Visitors entering Yosemite from the east should be prepared with good route finding skills and the appropriate gear to safely travel on steep, potentially hard snow.
Caution is advised traveling over lakes and waterways at mid elevations as the ice and snow bridges are rapidly melting.
We saw bear tracks once again this week, this time near Mammoth Peak overlook. Other carnivores such as long-tailed weasel, pine marten and coyote were also active. Porcupine tracks were seen in the Unicorn Creek drainage.
The Tuolumne Meadows Ski Hut is open. There is firewood and 10 bunks that are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Power has been intermittent and there is NO phone service in Tuolumne Meadows this winter. We can be contacted via email, but we may be delayed in responding if we are on patrol. Contact the wilderness office at 209/372-0740 with any questions or concerns. Come prepared, and please make good decisions while travelling in the wilderness this spring.
Laura and Rob Pilewski - Tuolumne Winter Rangers