New snow: 8 inches
Total settled snow depth: 12 inches (at 8,600 feet)
High temperature: 37°F (February 25)
Low temperature: -9°F (February 24)
Ski Conditions and Weather
Winter returned to the Yosemite high country this week with cold temperatures, high winds and newly fallen snow. The results from our snow surveys this week indicate a slightly deeper snowpack, but similar snow water content to the historically dry winter of 2015. Fortunately, the higher elevations have a deeper snowpack, thanks to a wet November. We are hopeful that more snow will be added over the next few days as a winter storm warning is in effect, with potentially the biggest storm of the season (which would not take much to exceed the 9”/24 hr. snowfall total of January 24). We shall see what March has in store….
Presently the Tioga Road is 100% snow covered from Ellery Lake to Olmsted Point. Ski conditions are good below tree line, but most alpine terrain has been hammered by the fierce southwest and northeast winds this week. This is all subject to change if the storm in the forecast comes to fruition. Wilderness travelers need to be fully self-reliant, have navigational equipment and should be prepared for blizzard-like conditions if they decide to venture out.
Avalanche and Snowpack Conditions
Please refer to the Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center (ESAC) for the avalanche advisory for this part of the Sierra Nevada.
Given this week’s forecast, it is very likely that the avalanche hazard will increase at any elevation that already has snow on the ground. Most aspects, especially northerly ones, have many weak layers of faceting and wind slabs that could be tested with any significant weight/new snow. Southerly aspects may have crusts that would offer a good sliding surface as well.
This week the wildlife was quite vocal. The squawking Steller’s jays were lingering around Tenaya Lake and Tuolumne Meadows. Coyotes were barking, great horned owls were hooting and both red and white breasted nuthatches were squeaking.
The Tuolumne Meadows Ski Hut is open. There is firewood and 8 bunks that are available on a first-come, first-served basis. There is no phone service in Tuolumne Meadows at this time. We can be contacted regarding winter travel to Tuolumne Meadows via email, but we may be delayed in responding if we are on patrol. For permit information: https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/wildpermits.htm. or you may contact the wilderness office at 209/372-0740. Come prepared, and please make good decisions while traveling in the wilderness this winter!
Laura and Rob Pilewski - Tuolumne Winter Rangers