Daily Report – Yosemite National Park
Thursday, February 1st, 2018
Today: Mostly sunny. Highs 59 to 65 at 5000 feet…52 to 57 at 8000 feet.
Tonight: Mostly clear. Lows 38 to 48 at 5000 feet…27 to 37 at 8000 feet.
Tomorrow: Sunny. Highs 59 to 66 at 5000 feet…52 to 58 at 8000 feet.
NEW AND HAPPENING TODAY
Tuolumne Meadows Winter Conditions Update for January 31, 2018
New snow: 9 inches
Total settled snow depth: 12 inches (at 8,600 feet)
High temperature: 54°F (January 29)
Low temperature: -5°F (January 26)
Ski Conditions and Weather: While doing the first snow surveys of the season this week we had a chance to see what this winter has amounted to thus far throughout our patrol area. The good news is that we were able to keep our skis on (no walking) for the 50 mile journey. The bad news is that the snowpack is woefully lean for this time of year, and we are in the midst of a warm spell that is seeing more water withdrawals from the Sierra Nevada snow bank daily. Snow depths at the snow courses averaged from 13 ½ inches at Tenaya Lake (8,150 feet) up to 36 inches at Rafferty Meadow (9,400 feet). The water content of the snow was also quite low.
Presently the ski conditions are good for touring along the Tioga Road, in drainages, and area meadows. Good powder snow still exists above 9,200 feet on north aspects for making turns. South aspects are mostly bare and east and west aspects are a grab bag of sun and wind affected snow and bare ground. In general, it is spring skiing in June-uary out there folks!
Avalanche and Snowpack Conditions: Avalanche and Snowpack Conditions: Please refer to the Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center (ESAC) for the avalanche advisory for this part of the Sierra Nevada.
The avalanche hazard in the Tuolumne area is currently low. Warm temperatures have helped to stabilize the snowpack following the last snowfall. Prior to, and just after, the 9 inches of snow that fell on January 24 there was a period of high SW winds that formed wind slabs on lee slopes. These wind slabs were touchy and easily triggered. We observed several small pockets of wind slab that avalanched during this wind event especially in areas where there was icy snow remaining from last winter.
Wildlife: The usual suspects were out and about this week. Coyote and pine marten seemed more active and curious, and less afraid as we skied nearby. With these warm temperatures, perhaps, they are confusing us with the summer visitors who inappropriately “drop” their food more often. Large flocks of dark-eyed juncos followed us along the shores of Tenaya Lake which has yet to freeze solid this winter.
Questions: 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 at this time. We can be contacted via email, 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, and please make good decisions while traveling in the wilderness this winter. Follow our blog: https://www.nps.gov/yose/blogs/tmconditions.htm. Don’t forget the sunscreen! Laura and Rob Pilewski – Tuolumne Winter Rangers (L. Pilewski)
TRANServe Enterprise Van Pool Meeting Thursday, February 15 10AM- 12PM Valley Auditorium
Come learn about the Enterprise Van Pool. The Van Pool Program is another vendor option to commute to and from work using the Transit Subsidy Benefit.
The other vendor is YARTS which is a bus that comes from Merced to Yosemite Valley, with multiple stops in between.
Don’t have a Transit? That’s OK, you can sign up! Please contact Denise Buskeness for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org or 379-1024.
The Transit Benefit Program is available to all employees. (D. Buskeness)
EPTS Slideshow Tuesday, February 6
John Mock “40 years exploring the Karakoram & Hindu Kush”
Don’t miss the next EPTS Slideshow which will take place at 7:00pm on Tuesday, February 6th at the El Portal Community Hall. Yosemite West resident, guidebook author, and linguist John Mock will share his images from decades of trekking in the Karakoram and Hindukush, including the Kalasha Valleys, Snow Lake and the Hispar La, K2 and the Gondogoro La and the Nangmah and Kondus valleys in eastern Baltistan. He’ll show famous peaks (K2, Broad Peak, the Gasherbrums, the Ogre), famous rock walls (Great Trango Tower, Uli Biaho Tower, Amin Brak) and unknown granite spires in eastern Baltistan awaiting first ascents! (P. Amstutz)
The Mist Trail from the JMT junction just above the Vernal Fall Footbridge to the top of Vernal Fall has reopened. The JMT from Clark Point to the Panoramic will remain closed. (
Yosemite Rockfall Year in Review: 2017
There many large and consequential rockfalls in Yosemite in 2017, with a record 85 events (including rockfalls, rockslides, and debris flows) documented. The cumulative volume of these events was about 36,800 cubic meters. Although this is not the largest annual volume recorded, greater volumes in previous years were typically dominated by one very large event (for example, the 46,700 cubic meter rockfall from Ahwiyah Point in 2009), whereas the cumulative volume for 2017 resulted from several large and medium-sized rockfalls.
The largest event in 2017 almost escaped notice. On the stormy morning of January 12, road crews encountered downed trees and a damaged manhole on the road between Pohono Bridge and the Big Oak Flat Road junction. They also noticed a suspiciously fresh-looking boulder in the Merced River. Subsequent investigation revealed that the boulder was part of a very large rockslide that originated far above the road in an area known (appropriately) as “The Rockslides”. The total volume of this slide was about 20,000 cubic meters (almost 60,000 tons), most of which was scattered throughout the forested slopes above the road. If not for the single boulder that hit the road, this rockslide might have escaped notice for some time.
Much greater road damage occurred on June 12, when about 650 cubic meters (nearly 2,000 tons) of rock fell from “Parkline Slab”, a sloping cliff just east of the park boundary near El Portal. About one-third of the rock debris landed on the El Portal Road, burying a 60 meter (200 foot)-long section of road under tons of rock; fortunately, there were no cars directly under this area, despite the rockfall occurring around noon during the busy summer season. The road was closed for five days as crews cleared debris and repaired the roadbed. Much loose debris remains on the slope above the road, and could continue to slide during intense rainstorms.
The year’s most consequential rockfalls occurred from the southeast face of El Capitan in September. The first of these occurred at 1:52 pm on September 27, when 290 cubic meters (860 tons) of rock fell from the cliff near the path of Horsetail Fall. Two rock climbers were walking along the base of the cliff directly under the area, and, sadly, one of them was killed and the other seriously injured. YOSAR quickly extracted both climbers, as several more rockfalls totaling 163 cubic meters (440 tons) pummeled the base of the cliff over the next few hours. At 3:21 pm the following day (September 28), a much larger rockfall occurred from the same location. This rockfall, totaling 10,324 cubic meters (27,875 tons), buried trees at the base of the cliff and generated a huge dust cloud that fanned out across the valley. A small rock fragment hit a vehicle traveling on Northside Drive, puncturing the sunroof and injuring the driver. Northside Drive was closed for 24 hours as geologists assessed the potential for additional activity. Several smaller rockfalls occurred from this same area in October and November.
Other substantial rockfalls in 2017 occurred at Little Windy Point on the El Portal Road, Ahwiyah Point, Glacier Point, El Capitan, Middle Cathedral Rock, and Hetch Hetchy.
It is very likely that there were additional rockfalls and rockslides in 2017, but these events either were not witnessed or went unreported. If you witness a rockfall of any size, encounter fresh rock debris, or hear cracking or popping sounds emanating from the cliffs, please contact park geologist Greg Stock at 209-379-1420 or email@example.com, or contact Park Dispatch by dialing 911 within the park. Documented rockfalls are added to the park database (http://pubs.usgs.gov/ds/746/), enabling long-term evaluation of rockfall activity to improve public safety. (G. Stock)
For Rent Available Immediately
3br/2bath 2 car garage 1880 sq ft home in gated community within City of Mariposa. All appliances included. Central a/c & heat. Pets negotiable with deposit. Rent $1500.00/month. First/last month plus $3000.00 security deposit. Minimum 1 year lease. Contact 510 912-554 or firstname.lastname@example.org (E. Hibler)
House for Rent
3 bedroom 2 bath home on East Whitlock Road available starting February 1, 2018. $1500 per month not including utilities. Laundry facilities included. One year lease preferred. No pets/smokers. Call Billy at 209-628-5761 for more information. (B. Bryan)
CONSTRUCTION & TRAFFIC DELAYS
Art Center Demolition
The AAC demolition is completed except for the sand removal under the building. This will require a contract modification and so the project is on hold until the modification is completed by PWR, likely in late January – early February. Completion of the sand removal is expected by early February. (D. Miller)
Museum/District Building Electrical Rehab Project
This project will rehabilitate the electrical system in the Museum/District Building by installing grounding in the existing electrical circuits. The Contractor mobilized on Monday, December 18th and the project is expected to run for 6 months. The 8 parking stalls to the west of the building between the sidewalk on the south and the south end of the fence to the north will become the Contractor’s staging areas. Please do not leave any vehicles parked there on Sunday night. Thank you. (K. White)