Dan's Outside

I go, I see, I do, I walk, I think, I like…

A Strange Sierra Spring

During a typical May we would be making our first drives over Tioga Pass and wondering if there might be enough snow left to keep Mammoth open until July 4th. The past two years were more typical and even drier/warmer than usual. However, this year is shaping up to be unusual. The overall precipitation for the season was (yes!) above normal – which is especially welcome after a few years of below normal precip. On top of that this has been a very cool and wet spring. During a typical May it usually feels more like early summer in the Sierra, but this year it has been more like an extended winter. The storm fronts have continued to pass through and even now in the latter part of May there is a string of cold, wet storms lined up to pass across the Sierra.

So, when will Tioga Pass Road open? I don’t have any inside information but I do know the history (average historical opening date is May 29) and I follow the current reports at the NPS and elsewhere. The road was reportedly plowed through recently, but this does not mean that it is yet ready to open. There is always a lot of additional work to take care of including clearing side roads and parking areas, patching road damage, and so forth. My hunch is that the NPS would like to get it open for Memorial Day Weekend in another week, but that this may be a challenge this year – especially if the forecast of another cold week with the possibility of snow pans out.

While the delay in “opening the high country” can frustrate some of us who want to get up there early, there are compensations. When the road does open, it is likely that we’ll see a lot of snow still in the high country – not like a few previous years when it seemed all too much like summer all too quickly. Even better, the heavy snow fall and late melt promises a long, green summer season and tons of wildflowers. (OK, and tons of mosquitoes, too – but let’s try not to think about that, OK?)

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May 22, 2010 Posted by | Commentary, Sierra Nevada | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on A Strange Sierra Spring

May 22 Opening for Tioga Pass?

Edie reports at the Little Red Tent blog that her “sources” say that Tioga Pass is likely to be open by May 22. Apparently the roadway is now clear and some work remains to be done widening the plowed area and working through some hazard zones.

May 12, 2009 Posted by | Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on May 22 Opening for Tioga Pass?

Glacier Point Road Opening Delayed

This is certainly no surprise, given the “interesting” weather this weekend – and I guessed earlier that this might happen – but according to a number of sources, including the NPS itself, the opening of Glacier Point Road, originally scheduled for yesterday, has been delayed until this coming Monday, May 4 due to weather concerns.

Some might wonder whether the weather could delay the opening of Tioga Pass Road. My guess is “no.” First, they generally seem to open the road near the end of a week, if memory serves, so there must be some leeway about the actual opening day. Second, it is not at all unusual to get a bit of “shoulder season” (fall and spring) snow that melts quickly in a day or two. The only fly in the ointment here is that this damp weather could last into the first half of next week. If that happens, I suppose that it is possible that road clearing work might be delayed – but my hunch is that this won’t end up being the case.

May 2, 2009 Posted by | Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Glacier Point Road Opening Delayed

Waiting for Sierra Summer?

There is a progress report from Yosemite National Park covering the prospective opening date for the Glacier Point Road and progress on clearing Tioga Pass Road:

Tioga Road Plowing Update for April 20:

Start: Crane Flat
End: 7 miles past Crane Flat (just beyond South Fork bridge)
Miles plowed today: 7 miles
Average snow depth: 4 feet

The Glacier Point Road tentatively may open on Friday, May 1, conditions permitting.

The Mariposa Grove Road tentatively may open on Friday, April 17, conditions permitting.

I love to engage in the sport of predicting when Tioga Pass Road might actually open. I don’t have the sources that some people have so I really have to guess. My guess is sometime around the middle of May if conditions stay more or less on track. Sometime close to that date I hope to enjoy fish tacos in Lee Vining while overlooking Mono Lake, and perhaps stop at Latte Da for an espresso afterwards. (You can view a historical record of opening dates online.)

April 21, 2009 Posted by | Commentary, News, Sierra Nevada | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Waiting for Sierra Summer?

   

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