Weather: February 6th through February 13th
High temperature: 42°F (February 6th)
Low temperature: -6°F (February 9th)
New Snow: 3 inches
Total settled snow depth: 42 inches as of February l1th
Skiing Conditions and Weather: The Tuolumne Meadows area received three inches of snow and three feet of wind this week. This, as well as the cold snap that we are in the midst of, has left the ski conditions extremely variable. Above tree line the snow surface is hard and wind effected, and below the tree line there is an array of crusts, as well as some soft wind-blown snow. These snow conditions are more conducive to good touring and not so good turning.
Avalanche and Snowpack Conditions: For the latest avalanche advisory for this area go to www.esavalanche.org for the Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center and click on advisory. The ESAC site is updated several times a week and more often during weather events.
The avalanche hazard is low on all aspects and elevations in the Tuolumne Meadows area until the next significant weather event. There is a lot of hard snow out there which will make for a good sliding surface for any newly fallen snow. The snow that fell this week coupled with the high winds were enough to form wind slabs. Wilderness travelers should use caution on slopes steeper than 30 degrees, especially wind effected slopes above tree line. Most slopes are wind effected and supportable above tree line, and in various stages of melt freeze below tree line.
Wildlife: In Tuolumne Meadows, an ermine was spotted carrying some poor unidentifiable critter home for dinner this week. And, its cousin the pine marten was also seen on the prowl south of Skelton Lakes. Coyote and snowshoe hare tracks are all over the place. Most birds aside from the Clark's nutcracker are hiding from these high winds among the tree branches and therefore haven't been seen much.
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. You can call the Tuolumne Meadows Ranger Station at 209/372-0450. If you leave a message we will get back to you the first chance we get. Power and phones are frequently out of service. Contact the wilderness office at 209/372-0740 with any questions or concerns if you are unable to reach the ranger station. Come prepared; don't count on electricity or phone service at the ski hut.
Laura and Rob Pilewski
Tuolumne Meadows Winter Rangers
Wind-swept ridge near White Mountain, February 6th, 2013.