Update for April 15, 2020

April 15, 2020 Posted by: Laura and Rob Pilewski

New snow: 11 inches
Total settled snow depth: 34 inches (at 8,600 feet)
High temperature: 51°F (April 11)
Low temperature: 12°F (April 13)

Ski Conditions and Weather

Yosemite National Park remains closed due to COVID-19. Our hearts go out to all those affected by this pandemic. Thanks and praise to all of the workers who have risked their lives to help others during this international crisis.

The unsettled weather pattern that started in March, continued this week. Though there have not been any multi-day Sierra Nevada soakers this winter, smaller storms coming through every few days have laid down a blanket of white that is now deeper than it has been for most of the winter. However, as we progress further into spring with longer and warmer days, this shallow snowpack will not last long. For now, coverage remains near 100% at these middle elevations on all but south aspects.

Skier with view of Tuolumne Meadows, Mt. Gibbs, and Mt. Dana on April 14, 2020.
Tuolumne Meadows, Mt. Gibbs, and Mt. Dana on April 14, 2020.
Though there is undoubtedly disappointment that the national parks are closed for the time being, perhaps there is comfort in knowing that there is a refreshing element to these days without automobiles or humans bringing our chaos to this peaceful wilderness. As the bears emerge from their dens (we saw tracks in the snow near our cabin this morning) they won’t be tempted by the visitors’ diet. We have been remarking at how “natural” the sky has looked and sounded lately. In a place where the drone of aircraft and a web of contrails are the norm, it is refreshing to hear only the sound of the river and to see a deep blue Sierra Nevada sky without the signature of humankind written all over it. 

Avalanche and Snowpack Conditions

The avalanche center has suspended their forecasting for this season due to COVID-19, but they do have a very useful video on their homepage that we recommend along with some valuable snowpack evaluation tools for springtime. As always, we are very grateful to Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center (ESAC) for their invaluable service to the outdoor community.

Storm clouds above Tuolumne Meadows at sunset on April 13, 2020.
Storm clouds above Tuolumne Meadows at sunset on April 13, 2020.


Although we started seeing a few painted lady butterflies in late March, now they are flying through at least one every couple of minutes. And with them have come some of the remaining migrant bird species as well: violet-green swallows, yellow-rumped warblers, mountain bluebirds, red-winged blackbirds, and a pair of killdeer. Several male and female Williamson’s sapsuckers have been drumming and squawking as they appear to be choosing a lodgepole to call home. Their drumming can be differentiated from other sapsuckers by a “…more rapid beginning and slower, more deliberate final taps” (Beedy & Pandolfino, 2013). This time of year, the male has a striking red throat and yellow breast while the female appears more like a drab flicker with a yellow breast. Apparently, they drill holes in an irregular pattern versus in neatly aligned rows like the red-breasted sapsucker.

As we transition into summer, please read these words by John Muir, close your eyes, smile and meditate knowing that wild nature carries on untrammeled, and will always be here to comfort and heal.

“How wild everything is, --wild as the sky and as pure! Never shall I forget this big, divine day, --the Cathedral and its thousands of cassiope bells, and the landscapes around them, and this camp in the gray crags above the woods, with its stars and streams and snow."

General Information

The Tuolumne Meadows Ski Hut is closed.


Tuolumne River on April 14, 2020.
Tuolumne River on April 14, 2020.

Last updated: April 15, 2020

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