Total settled snow depth: 81 inches (at 8,600 feet)
High temperature: 44°F (January 17)
Low temperature: 2°F (January 15)
Ski Conditions and Weather
Our week in Tuolumne Meadows can be summed up in three words—the big dig! Following the copious snowfall of the previous week we have been busy digging out area facilities and assessing the results of such a deep blanket of white that fell in such a short time frame. And, we still recorded 25 inches of new snow this week! That snow fell during the first two days of the week, and we have seen clear skies for the past five. There were significant NE winds at all elevations on January 15 and 16. This has caused variable ski conditions throughout the Tuolumne Meadows area. The lower elevations and meadows still are mostly boot top powder where the sun has not formed a crust. The high winds wreaked havoc on the alpine snowpack and there is a myriad of different wind effected snow types above the tree line.
Avalanche and Snowpack Conditions
Please refer to the Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center for the avalanche advisory for this part of the Sierra Nevada.
When the skies finally cleared this week we were able to have a good look around at the local peaks and ridges for evidence of avalanches. We observed isolated pockets, of what were probably wind slab avalanches, but if there were any prior to that, the evidence is long gone. There is a chance that avalanche crowns and debris were buried by subsequent snow fall and reburied by the time we got visibility to observe them. Otherwise, we did not observe any instability during our travels this week in the Tuolumne area. Conditions are always changing and visitors need to assess the avalanche hazard in real time and plan accordingly.
Short and long-tailed weasels tracks seem more abundant this season than others. They certainly are adept at burrowing under the low density snow in the meadow areas, where perhaps a few rodents have been flooded out during these storms.
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 NO power or 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, and please make good decisions while travelling in the wilderness this winter.
Laura and Rob Pilewski - Tuolumne Meadows Winter Rangers