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Daily Report - Yosemite National Park Thursday, December 20th, 2018

Daily Report - Yosemite National Park
Thursday, December 20th, 2018
 
Today: Mostly sunny. Breezy. Highs 55 to 61 at 5000 feet... 42 to 52 at 8000 feet. Southwest winds 25 to 30 mph over higher elevations. Gusts up to 45 mph over higher elevations.
Tonight: Mostly cloudy. Near the crest, a 20 percent chance of snow. A 20 percent chance of snow after midnight, gusts up to 45 mph after midnight. Windy. Lows 36 to 42 at 5000 feet...27 to 33 at 8000 feet. Southwest winds 30 to 40 mph with gusts to around 70 mph over higher elevations.
Tomorrow: Mostly sunny with a slight chance of snow. Windy. Highs 49 to 55 at 5000 feet...37 to 45 at 8000 feet. Southwest winds 25 to 35 mph over higher elevations. Gusts up to 40 mph in the morning. Over higher elevations, gusts up to 60 mph in the morning decreasing to 40 mph in the afternoon.
 
Additional Point Forecast Weather Links:
 
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NEW AND HAPPENING TODAY 
 
Yosemite Medical Clinic Holiday Closure December 24-25
Yosemite Medical Clinic will be closed December 24th and 25th in observance of official holidays. As usual, ambulance response will be available 24 hours per day, 7 days per week by calling 911.  (C. Griffin)
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Tuolumne Meadows Winter Conditions Update for December 19, 2018   
 
New snow: 6 inches
Total settled snow depth: 26 inches (at 8,600 feet)
High temperature: 49°F (December 13)
Low temperature:  6°F (December 15)
 
Ski Conditions and Weather: We arrived to Tuolumne Meadows on December 12.  At that time the snowline stretched to the gate in Lee Vining Canyon and the road was a patchwork of dry pavement and snow up to the Warren Fork (9000 feet). From the Warren Fork to Tuolumne Meadows and points west along the road is 100% snow covered with depths ranging from two to four feet. The Tioga Road is now closed for the season and open to non-motorized (i.e. ski, split-board, snowshoe, pedestrian) traffic only between the gate near Crane Flat east to Tioga Pass in Yosemite Park. The Tioga Road corridor and surrounding high country is now managed as wilderness and opportunities for solitude and a wilderness experience abound. Now the only whining one can hear is that of the Clark’s nutcracker. 
 
The first snows of winter were late in coming this season. But the storms that hit the high Sierra in late November were wet and left a lovely blanket of white covering the landscape down to approximately 7000 feet. When we arrived, the Tuolumne Meadows snow stake read 27 inches and there was 4.75 inches of snow water equivalent in the precipitation gauge. Just what the doctor ordered….big wet storms laying down a fine, dense, ski base on bare ground! Ski conditions are excellent for this time of year and the touring and turning opportunities are limitless. The best snow coverage is in drainages and on leeward slopes. Many of the high alpine ridges were scoured during the recent wind events. As always, snow conditions are very dynamic and visitors should come prepared for the gamut of possible conditions. Yosemite park rangers expect visitors to exercise an increased state of self-reliance when visiting the park during the winter.
 
Avalanche and Snowpack Conditions: Please refer to the Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center (ESAC) for the avalanche advisory for this part of the Sierra Nevada.
 
Presently the avalanche hazard in the Tuolumne Meadows area is low. With a shallow snowpack and cold clear nights we are seeing faceted snow developing near the surface and deeper in the snowpack. We will need to keep an eye on this as the winter progresses. There were several wind events over the past week that caused isolated wind slabs to form. Visitors should be attentive to changing avalanche hazards whenever there is transportable snow and strong enough winds to form wind slabs.
 
Wildlife: Bear tracks greeted us on our ski into Tuolumne Meadows just as we noticed them upon our departure last spring. As the days get shorter, they should be bedding down in their dens (we hope!). The winter rangers, however, do not hibernate! We join the tracks of the other winter residents such as the pine marten and long and short-tailed weasels that were seen most everywhere we went this week.
 
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 Ski Hut from the east (only) permits are self-issued at the ski hut.  For those entering from other areas, please see: 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! Follow our blog: https://www.nps.gov/yose/blogs/tmconditions.htm. Happy Winter Solstice! Laura and Rob Pilewski - Tuolumne Winter Rangers  (L. Pilewski)  
 
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RECENT NEWS
 
Research Library Holiday Closure
The Research Library will be closed for the holidays from December 24th through January 3rd. Please send research inquiries to yose_library@nps.gov.  (
V. Sanchez)
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Yosemite Community Holiday Dinner December 25
Yosemite Hospitality is offering a Holiday Dinner at Half Dome Village Pavilion on December 25th from 4 pm to 8 pm for all Yosemite employees and community members. The buffet-style meal is free for all Yosemite Hospitality employees and only $5 for their guests or other Yosemite community members. Numerous dining options will be available including appetizers, entrées, salads, sides, and dessert! Vegetarian options are also available.  (L. Cesaro)
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Local Road Work Through 12/21
Caltrans has issued traffic advisories indicating that drainage and slope stabilization work will continue on portions of both State Routes (Highways) 120 and 140. Work on SR 120 will occur throughout Tuolumne County on Thursday and Friday, 12/20 and 12/21. In Mariposa County, work will occur on SR 140 Monday through Friday, 12/17 to 12/21. Between the hours of 7:00 A.M. and 6:00 P.M., motorists should watch for flaggers, stopped vehicles and construction workers; expect 15 minute delays, and plan travel time accordingly.  (J. Donovan)
 
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CONSTRUCTION & TRAFFIC DELAYS
 
Wawona Road Delays
Weather permitting, starting Monday, December 10th, crews will begin repairing the Wawona Road within the Ferguson Fire burn area (Between the Rostrum and Chinquapin).  As part of the repairs there will be single lane traffic control with up to 30-minute delays, so please be patient and schedule additional time when traveling through this area. This work will continue through the end of January.
 
Work Schedule and Delays Starting December 10th: 
Monday through Friday
7am to 5pm –  Traffic delays up to 30 minutes (Hopefully, the delays will be less because crews are trying to keep alternating traffic moving thru the construction zone, however please plan on the 30-minute delays for the travel time)
 
No weekend or night work is scheduled at this time.  (M. Pieper)