Dan's Outside

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

Memorial Weekend – Glacier Point? Yes. Tioga Pass? No.

The most recent update at the Yosemite National Park web site confirms what many suspected, namely that Glacier Point Road will likely be available over the upcoming holiday weekend but that Tioga Pass will not open quite yet.

Glacier Point Road:
The Glacier Point Road will open on Friday, May 28 at noon, conditions permitting. Expect 30-minute delays between Chinquapin and Badger Pass Sunday night through Friday afternoon (except Memorial Day).

Tioga Road:
The Tioga Road will not be open for Memorial Day weekend; there is no estimated opening date.

Plows have reached Tioga Pass and will now be working on widening the road. Plowing continues Monday – Saturday. Average Snow Depth is 4 to 6 feet. Plowing operation will continue today.

As I have mentioned before, this has been an unusually cold and wet May. Just this morning I heard that chain requirements were up on Interstate 80 over Donner Summit. As of today, Ebbetts, Sonora, and Monitor Passes are reportedly still closed. You can be pretty certain that Tioga won’t open before them, though it frequently opens perhaps a week or so after they open.

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May 26, 2010 Posted by | Sierra Nevada | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Memorial Weekend – Glacier Point? Yes. Tioga Pass? No.

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?)

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

The Start of "Sierra Winter" Next Week?

Sometime between mid-October and (usually) early November, the first real winter storms start to arrive in California and the Sierra Nevada – and we move from occasional temporary closings on the highest passes to the annual winter closures.

Judging from the current predictions, travelers need to keep a watch out starting next week. Right now it sounds like a storm system may come through California that has the potential to drop much more than the “dustings” of snow what we’ve had in the high country up until now – quite possibly enough to close passes like Tioga, Sonora, and Ebbetts for a long time or even for the season, depending on what follows.

October 8, 2009 Posted by | Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The Start of "Sierra Winter" Next Week?

"Perfect Time to Beat the Crowd"

A Tom Stienstra piece at SFGate reminded me about a September truth: at just the time when fewer and fewer people head to the outdoors, the outdoors is becoming a more and more attractive place to be in many ways.

School is (mostly) back in session and after this Labor Day Weekend (which the news reports like to call “the unofficial end of summer”) is over most people will be back at work full time. But if you can break away now, especially during the week, there is hardly a better time to do so in much of California.

Although the start of the cool and rainy season is likely still at least six to eight weeks away, the likelihood of extreme summer heat starts to diminish. Even the Sierra sun and heat can be intense on some mid-summer days, but by mid to late September many days will be comfortable and feature warm, golden light. Here in Northern California we get some of the best coastal weather of the year – the fog is less constant and the winter storms are a long ways off.

And the people pressure starts to decrease at many places that have been extremely crowded for the last few months. As a Sierra fan – and someone whose work schedule provides some free time in September – I love the post-Labor Day period when the number of people in the mountains diminishes greatly. Heck, I can show up on a weekend and get a wilderness permit on the spot for just about any place I want to go!

September 6, 2009 Posted by | Commentary | , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Snow? Yeah!

Looks like snow is what we may get in the Sierra this weekend. While it isn’t unusual to get a few dustings in late September and the beginning of October, this storm looks a bit more robust that usual.

If all goes as planned, I may be able to offer a first-person report early next week.

October 2, 2008 Posted by | Sierra Nevada | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

   

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