New snow: 3"
Total settled snow depth: 54 inches (at 8,600 feet)
High temperature: 56°F (February 8th)
Low temperature: -6°F (February 3rd)
Ski Conditions and Weather
This week saw initially cold temperatures, followed by much warmer than average temperatures. The warming trend is forecast to continue through the week with daytime highs approaching 60°F! The ski conditions are making a quick transition from cold, dry powder snow to more spring-like wet, corn snow conditions. There will be good touring and turning opportunities with this new pattern. Visitors can expect a frozen snow surface early in the day followed by softening conditions as the day warms up. Of course, there may be less than perfect conditions during this transition with “zipper” sun and wind crusts on certain aspects.
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 warm temperatures have increased the hazard for both wet loose and wet slab avalanches primarily on aspects that get more sun exposure though out the day. This is especially true when temperatures do not stay below freezing at night. Visitors should be aware of changes in the snowpack as warming causes the upper part of the snowpack to become wet and lose the bond with adjacent snow crystals causing wet avalanches. There is still hazard from wind slab avalanches on steep terrain at the higher elevations where more wintry snow still exists, but this will diminish as the warming trend continues.
Not only does the snow reveal tracks of Yosemite’s winter inhabitants, it can tell a story. Unfortunately, sometimes the story does not have a happy ending, as was the case of a poor Snowshoe hare this week. Or, shall we say, it was a happy ending for the pine marten that ended up with a full belly, leaving only a pile of soft white fur behind!
The Tuolumne Meadows Ski Hut is open! There is 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.
Happy Ski Touring!
Laura and Rob Pilewski - Tuolumne Winter Rangers