An Update from the Tuolumne Meadows Rangers

In Environment, Inside the NPS, Wildlife

I really enjoy reading the reports from the rangers who choose to spend all winter sacked out in a cabin in Tuolumne Meadows. This year has been especially trying since there’s no phone or electricity to the cabin. That means no TV and no internet. But, they get to live in one of the most beautiful places in the world and enjoy nature at it’s most pristine.

Weather: (April 4 through April 11)
High temp: 51°F (April 9)
Low temp: -4°F (April 6)
New Snow: 3 inches
Total settled snow depth: 19 inches as of April 11, 2012

Skiing Conditions and Weather: It has been great spring skiing in the Tuolumne Meadows vicinity. The weather this week was dominated by warm, sunny days and clear, cold nights. This is the ideal formula for setting up the snowpack for Sierra corn skiing. Most aspects we’re skiing well between the hours of 10:00am and 2:00pm. Coverage is still good on all aspects except for due South and some wind swept high ridges. The road corridor is 100% snow covered between the Tioga Pass entrance station and Snow Creek (and westward). Highway 120 east of Tioga Pass has been maintained and was snow free between the gate and the Yosemite Park boundary. That being said, at the time of this writing it is snowing and the forecast is for continued snow through Saturday. Come prepared for changing conditions. On any given day travelers may encounter both spring and winter conditions!

The snowpack in the Tuolumne area has gone isothermal (the temperature is the same throughout the snowpack). This typically means a stable snowpack. However, there is still the potential for new snow avalanches with this week’s forecasted storms. Travelers should be cautious on slopes greater than 30 degrees that have new snow on them. Wind slabs could form, usually on North and East aspects. The refrozen old snow surface will make for a smooth and slippery sliding surface that the new snow may not bond to very well. Once the skies do clear travelers should be wary of rapidly warming temperatures and the potential for wet snow avalanches. As always, pay attention to overnight temperatures as the hazard will remain low as long as temperatures continue to freeze the snowpack overnight.

Wildlife: Flocks of Violet-green swallows were circling around rapidly melting Tenaya Lake yesterday. And, Stellar’s Jays were already looking for picnic handouts. On Sunday, the following birds were seen at Parson’s Lodge and the meadows: Common Raven, Northern Flicker, Mountain Chickadee, Red-winged Blackbird, Killdeer, Clark’s Nutcracker, American Robin, Mountain Bluebird, Cassin’s Finch, Red Crossbill, Pine Siskin, and Dark-eyed Junco. Two Red-naped Sapsuckers provided a background beat on the Lodgepole pines while the rest of the tweety birds sung along.

(via Yosemite NPS on Facebook)

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