New snow: Trace
Total settled snow depth: 2 inches as of February 25, 2015 (at 8,600 feet)
High temperature: 57°F, February 18
Low temperature: 15°F, February 23
Skiing Conditions and Weather: The "inside slider," as the weather guessers like to call it, slid right on by Tuolumne Meadows this week and left barely a trace of new snow, and a new layer of pine needles and dust in its wake. Not that we have come to expect much out of this so-called winter season in regards to snow or even "winter," but this is getting pretty grim. The first half of the week was more of the same—sunny and warm. Where there is still snow, this meant good corn snow and fine touring conditions. One can manage a few turns up high in between the rocks, and the road and meadows are still mostly snow covered, allowing for fast travel. Temperatures are forecast to be more "seasonal" this week (low 40s instead of this season's norm of mid 50s), so not much should change in regards to the ski conditions. Above 9,500 feet is still the best bet for skiing. Otherwise, snowshoeing/hiking are the sports of choice.
Avalanche and Snowpack Conditions: For the avalanche advisory for this area of the Sierra Nevada go to www.esavalanche.org for the Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center. The avalanche danger in the Tuolumne Meadows area is low. In the alpine zone, conditions have stabilized somewhat, but the winds which were strong out of the northeast the past few days, may have deposited wind slabs on the old snow surface, which is hard and smooth, making for a good sliding surface. Travelers should be cautious above tree line on steep wind loaded slopes.
Wildlife: Spring is in the air for the birds. Mountain chickadees and brown creepers are singing their mating songs. Hairy woodpeckers are claiming their territories. Coyotes are also still quite active. One very red colored one posed for a photo at a Sierra Nevada red fox study site perhaps in hopes that it too might make national news. Sorry buddy, you're not as rare as your elusive cousin.
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. There is power but no public 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; don't count on electricity or phone service at the ski hut.