New snow: none
Total settled snow depth: 5 inches as of February 4th, 2015 (at 8,600 feet)
High temp: 52°F, February 1st
Low temp: 18°F, February 3rd
Skiing Conditions and Weather: The weather this week was characterized by warm and dry conditions. The winds blew hard out of the east for 24 hours, and a trace of new snow fell in the Tioga Pass area. January 2015 was the warmest and driest January on record for our weather station here in Tuolumne Meadows. One can easily deduce what the ski conditions are like in the area after such a weather synopsis. Remarkably, the skiing on the road and meadows is still good. And, if you are feeling adventurous and creative, you can leave the security of the road and try your luck skiing on local summer hiking trails where, at least, there are fewer obstacles. Snowshoers are also using these corridors. We skied 17 miles yesterday while patrolling for the rare Sierra Nevada red fox. We only had to take our skis off once, and yes, we were feeling adventurous and creative (desperate is another appropriate adjective!) Just remember, it is Tuolumne Meadows without the cars;a wilderness paradise regardless of what mode of non-mechanized transportation one uses to get here. On the bright side, the weather prognosticators are threatening a chance of snow this weekend.
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 and click on advisory. The ESAC site is undergoing changes this season and is not regularly updated as in past seasons, but it still posts relevant observations. The avalanche hazard in the Tuolumne Meadows area is presently low.
Wildlife: While patrolling through Tuolumne Meadows this weekend with a fellow east-side birder, we spotted a horned lark feeding a begging juvenile. We caught a glimpse of a coyote yesterday while patrolling up the smooth icy surface of the river in Lyell Canyon. These canines, like us humans, tend to conserve energy and follow the path of least resistance (ski tracks, road corridors). At the end of several long days, we have drifted off to sleep to the sounds of the resident northern pygmy owl.
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 Meadows this winter. We can be contacted via email at Robert_Pilewski@nps.gov, 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.
Laura and Rob Pilewski -Tuolumne Winter Rangers (R. Pilewski)