Update for December 18, 2012

December 18, 2012 Posted by: Laura and Rob Pilewski

Weather: December 11  through December 18
High temp: 38 °F (December 11th)
Low temp: -11 °F (December 7th )
New Snow: 22"  inches                                    
Total settled snow depth: 29" inches as of December 18th                      
Skiing Conditions and Weather: It was a snowy week in the Tuolumne area. We had measurable snowfall 5 out of 7 days. Though it was not the big Sierra dump, the snowfall this week contributed to the settled base depth, which in turn contributed to more favorable ski conditions. The density of the snow that fell this week varied from <5% (12/12) to 10% (12/18). The bluebird day that followed that low density snowfall was the finest day of powder skiing thus far this winter. It was light and dry powder on top of a smooth supportable surface. 

The short days of December, with the sun low on the horizon, makes the lighting this time of year reason enough to get out and enjoy this winter wilderness.
The freshly fallen snow clinging to the pines gives an added air of tranquility to the surroundings and peace prevails in the high country of Yosemite National 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. These updates should begin any day now for the season…

We did not see any avalanche activity or observe any signs of instability on our patrols this week. I would qualify that by saying that we did not venture into the high alpine zone this week, but rather kept our patrols at timberline and below. We hope to get up to the Sierra Crest this week and have a good look around….weather permitting. There was not much wind associated with our weather this week, so its effect on the snow was probably minimal. The melt freeze crusts that we identified last week are persisting on most aspects and elevations. We will keep an eye on them as the winter progresses. There was some very impressive surface hoar (feathery crystals that develop on the snow surface) development this week in places. These snow crystals are beautiful to look at on the snow surface, but once buried by subsequent storms can become a persistent weakness that can cause a failure of the snowpack and lead to avalanches.

Wildlife: The fresh snow this week gave us a chance to hone our animal track identification skills. We observed tracks left by Coyote, Douglas Squirrels, Pine Martens, Ermine, and Snow Shoe Hare. We observed a Pine Marten with an unlucky Hare (or part of one) in his mouth looking for a
place to have lunch in peace. The bird sightings this week were highlighted by a Northern Goshawk and included
Mountain Chickadees, Brown Creepers, Ravens, and Clark's Nutcrackers.      

Questions: The Tuolumne Ski Hut is open for the season. 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)372-0450.  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. 

Let it Snow!
Laura & Rob Pilewski
Tuolumne Meadows Winter Rangers

 Tuolumne Meadows after a December snow storm.  Western White Pine covered in a new snow December 12, 2012


10 Comments Comments icon

  1. December 28, 2012 at 09:49

    Hi Rob and Laura, long time no chat. I'll be skiing in and staying for a week photographing the second week of Jan and bringing you fresh vegetable. Will catch up on Katmai bears again.

  2. December 27, 2012 at 03:44

    Claire - We will try to include dates and locations in a picture caption from now on (after the December 26th update). John Spurrier - As long as the Winter Rangers are able to get out and make those measurements, they will be included.

  3. December 26, 2012 at 09:54

    I bet they lost power. We might not hear from them for a while.

  4. December 25, 2012 at 06:58

    Hi folks. I was just wondering what the current conditions are in the meadows. Thinking of making the trek in on Thurs.

  5. December 25, 2012 at 10:30

    Hi Rangers! Mark posted a comment today, but no show here. You just got a legendary Sierra dump. Pcr at Squaw partially buried 2 customers, and an Alpine Meadows patroller killed (in a similar path to Mark's event 30+ years ago). We are thinking of you. Merry Christmas!

  6. December 25, 2012 at 09:22

    Merry Christmas Winter Rangers!

  7. December 21, 2012 at 03:06

    Can't wait to hear and see pix of the big Christmas dump you're forecast to get. ENJOY!!!

  8. December 21, 2012 at 11:10

    Is there a way that you can include both date and location of the beautiful photos that you post?

  9. December 21, 2012 at 06:47

    Beautiful Photos! Thanks.

  10. December 20, 2012 at 11:01

    You Show these..... NewSnow:22"inches Total settled snow depth: 29" inches as of December 18th How 'bout showing how much total snow rec'd for season up to this point? Thank, John

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Last updated: January 9, 2013

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