Update for March 20, 2019

March 20, 2019 Posted by: Laura and Rob Pilewski

New snow: 6 inches
Total settled snow depth: 91 inches (at 8,600 feet)
High temperature: 50°F (March 16)
Low temperature: -1°F (March 14)

Ski Conditions and Weather


Spring sprung a week early in the high country and after such an intense winter we can’t say we were too disappointed. We temporarily put down our shovels and headed south on a wilderness patrol (the opposite direction of most critters this time of year). The touring conditions were quite good with minimal trail breaking and fast travel. Snow conditions were a mixed bag at most aspects and elevations. But, one could find powder on sheltered north facing slopes and corn snow on the lower elevation south facing ones. Down at Merced Lake, snow depth averages 4 ½ feet with south aspects getting thinner daily. Below 7,500 feet things were melting fast and snow bridges are becoming fewer and farther between with deeply carved channels.
 

Skier, Merced Canyon, and Half Dome on March 17, 2019.
Skier, Merced Canyon, and Half Dome on March 17, 2019.

Now, the corn cooking cycle is on hold and unsettled weather has returned to the central Sierra Nevada with six new inches on the ground and constantly changing surface conditions.

Park visitors approaching from the east via the Tioga Road and Lee Vining Canyon should not expect a road grade. Along the road, there is one steep side-hill section at approximately 9,200 feet just below (east of) the Green Bridge that requires particular caution.  The snowline extends down to the closed gate, but there are several patches of bare pavement between the gate and 9,000 feet elevation. As spring progresses and the days get longer, the snowline will continue to creep upward. Visitors have been taking both the road corridor and Lee Vining Canyon proper to get to Tuolumne Meadows and it’s just a matter of personal preference. We still recommend carrying an ice axe and crampons for times when the snow is firm.

Avalanche and Snowpack Conditions

 

The Clark Range near Mt. Clark on March 16, 2019.
The Clark Range near Mt. Clark on March 16, 2019.
Please refer to the Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center (ESAC) for the avalanche advisory for this part of the Sierra Nevada.
 
The snowpack went through a good melt freeze cycle on southerly aspects and at lower elevations this week. But, the new snow may not bond well to these firmer surfaces or the faceted powder that was on northerly slopes at higher elevations.

Winds are expected to follow some of these disturbances, so wind and storm slab avalanches may be a hazard depending on snowfall amounts and transport. If things do warm up post storm, wet slides may also become of concern.

Wildlife


At Merced Lake Ranger Station the songs of spring were in the air. In addition to the sounds of cascading water along the river, we saw and heard the water ouzel cheerfully (as it always appears) dipping upon a log. Brown creeper and mountain chickadee mating songs greeted the day while the great horned owl lulled us to sleep at night.

General Information


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. 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 those visiting the Tuolumne Meadows Ski Hut from the east (only) permits are self-issued at the ski hut. For those entering from other areas, visit: 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 travelling in the wilderness!

Happy Skiing!
Laura and Rob Pilewski - Tuolumne Meadows Winter Rangers

Merced Lake on March 15, 2019.
Merced Lake on March 15, 2019.

 


16 Comments Comments icon

  1. Karen
    March 25, 2019 at 05:06
     

    Thank you for these posts! Yosemite is pretty much my favorite place on earth, and I check the web cams just about every day. I love seeing the seasons change via my desktop! We get up there whenever we can. I often imagine what it might be like for you in the solitary existence you live in the winter. I think it must be so beautiful, peaceful, soul-enriching, and at the same time quite the adventure and maybe even a little scary? What an amazing thing you do, taking care of all that wilderness. Your commitment is to be honored and admired.

     
  2. Briar Andrew Horn
    March 22, 2019 at 02:35
     

    Does anyone have/know where I can find a photo / get detailed info on the status of 120 through Lee Vining Canyon. I am need to determine if I can pull a pulk sled up / down the road there. Any info would be a great help.

     
  3. Briar Andrew Horn
    March 22, 2019 at 02:35
     

    Does anyone have/know where I can find a photo / get detailed info on the status of 120 through Lee Vining Canyon. I am need to determine if I can pull a pulk sled up / down the road there. Any info would be a great help.

     
  4. Briar Andrew Horn
    March 22, 2019 at 02:35
     

    Does anyone have/know where I can find a photo / get detailed info on the status of 120 through Lee Vining Canyon. I am need to determine if I can pull a pulk sled up / down the road there. Any info would be a great help.

     
  5. Briar Andrew Horn
    March 22, 2019 at 02:35
     

    Does anyone have/know where I can find a photo / get detailed info on the status of 120 through Lee Vining Canyon. I am need to determine if I can pull a pulk sled up / down the road there. Any info would be a great help.

     
  6. Tom Haldorsen
    March 21, 2019 at 08:06
     

    Great pictures and thank you for providing us with such fantastic winter updates!

     
  7. Rebecca
    March 21, 2019 at 02:43
     

    Breathtaking!

     
  8. Rebecca
    March 21, 2019 at 02:43
     

    Breathtaking!

     
  9. Rebecca
    March 21, 2019 at 02:43
     

    Breathtaking!

     
  10. Rebecca
    March 21, 2019 at 02:43
     

    Breathtaking!

     
  11. Louise
    March 21, 2019 at 12:30
     

    Love the photos and glad you are posting more than one each week!

     
  12. Loren
    March 21, 2019 at 09:31
     

    So good to see the high country winter through your eyes. (This is Laura Molnar’s mom.)

     
  13. Loren
    March 21, 2019 at 09:31
     

    So good to see the high country winter through your eyes. (This is Laura Molnar’s mom.)

     
  14. Loren
    March 21, 2019 at 09:31
     

    So good to see the high country winter through your eyes. (This is Laura Molnar’s mom.)

     
  15. Clark
    March 20, 2019 at 08:50
     

    Wow... breathtaking photos! Thanks so much for this glimpse at the next river over. I'm gonna go back to staring at them now...

     
  16. Clark
    March 20, 2019 at 08:50
     

    Wow... breathtaking photos! Thanks so much for this glimpse at the next river over. I'm gonna go back to staring at them now...

     
 
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Last updated: March 20, 2019

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