New snow: None
Total settled snow depth: 0 inches as of March 18 (at 8,600 feet)
High temperature: 58°F, March 14
Low temperature: 22°F, March 13
Skiing Conditions and Weather: The snowstake at our weather station melted out this week to bare ground. At 8,600 feet around Tuolumne Meadows, there is a patchwork of bare ground and snow patches of varying depths. Rivers are running and the meadows are starting to green up for spring. The continued drought (year four) and well-above-normal temperatures this winter is unprecedented since weather records have been kept here and elsewhere in California. Better start conserving that water. This is the real deal.
On the bright side, Tuolumne Meadows is still a glorious place to visit in any season. If one is willing to carry their skis and plan according to aspect, elevation, and time of day, there is still some snow sliding out there. The road is mostly snow covered from the park boundary at Tioga Pass to 1.5 miles east of Tuolumne Meadows, where there is a long stretch of bare pavement. Where the road skirts Tuolumne Meadows, it is still snow covered and the drainages and lake basins south of the Tioga Road are still the best local opportunities for ski touring. Otherwise, everywhere else, snowshoes are more appropriate. There is still too much snow for hiking on north aspects and above 10,000 feet. However, with such a shallow snowpack, things will be melting fast as temperatures remain above normal this week.
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 and along on the Tioga Road including Lee Vining Canyon is low.
Wildlife: Yes, the American robin is back singing its sweet warbling song. Winter is over, folks.
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 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.