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Annual Tradition – Predicting the Opening of Tioga Pass Road

Sierra Nevada fans, especially those trying to get to the “east side” from the Bay Area and those on the east trying to get to Yosemite Valley, watch eagerly each spring for the opening of Tioga Pass Road, the trans-Sierra route through the park. The opening date varies from year to year based on a range of factors: the amount of winter snow fall, late storms, the condition of the underlying road, and so forth. Over a period of many decades the average opening has been very close to the end of May. However, I’ve been up there earlier in dry years, and during one memorable wet season in the mid-1990s the pass did not open until July! (I drove over shortly after it opened and was amazed by the amount of remaining snow and by the unbelievable amounts of runoff water everywhere.)

So, when will it open this year? If anyone knows, they aren’t telling – and, in any case, Mother Nature has a way of throwing surprises at us. The NPS does offer periodic updates, and sometimes you can “read between the lines” and get some idea of when the opening might be. (And I understand from some friends who know about these things that the word does start to get out informally a bit before the official announcement. For example, it might help if you knew someone working on the road clearing…)

This winter produced a somewhat above normal snowfall, though not anything record-breaking. The season has lasted a bit longer than usual, with new snow still arriving as we approach the beginning of May. Both of these factors suggest a somewhat later opening than in the past few years. Some work on the clearing is already underway, as per the link above. However, it isn’t enough to simply plow across the pass. Various kinds of debris (fallen trees, rocks, etc.) must be dealt with, turnouts and side roads must be opened, and avalanche dangers must end.

I have no inside information on this at all, but I’m going to guess that we’ll see an opening fairly close to the historical average day of May 29.

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April 27, 2010 Posted by | Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

May 22 Opening for Sonora Pass?

Sierra Journal reports that the opening of Sonora Pass is scheduled for May 22. This is significant for a number of reasons, including the following:

  • The availability of the Sonora Pass route considerably reduces the time/distance that SF Bay Area folks must drive to get to the eastern Sierra.
  • This suggests that other routes like Ebbetts and Monitor Pass will also be open at that time.
  • Tioga Pass often seems to open within about a week of the opening of Sonora. If that happens this time we could guess that Tioga might open before the end of May.

I’m ready!

(Although it is not a “pass,” the Glacier Point Road opened early this week.)

May 7, 2009 Posted by | Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Glacier Point Road Set To Open Friday… Or Maybe Not?

According to a variety of reports that have been floating around for the past couple of weeks, Yosemite National Park’s Glacier Point Road is scheduled to open tomorrow, May 1 “conditions permitting.” That last pair of words may well be important this season, as a respectable storm is scheduled to pass through northern California on Friday.

My bet at this point is that the NPS will delay the official opening of the road a bit.

Informal updates on Tioga Pass Road indicate that a decent chunk of the road from the west has been cleared, and I’m betting that other portions have also been cleared. The NPS won’t say in advance when it will open and I haven’t heard any unofficial announcements (I sometimes manage to pick up on a few of these a week or so before the opening) but it is likely to be at least a few more weeks. I’m betting against the first half of May, but I’m pretty confident about the second half.

Update: Right after posting this I saw an update on Tioga Road at Yosemite blog. The short story is that they have made it to the May Lake turnoff.

April 30, 2009 Posted by | Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Glacier Point Road Set To Open Friday… Or Maybe Not?

   

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