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Tuolumne Meadows Winter Conditions Update for December 29, 2015

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avatar Tuolumne Meadows Winter Conditions Update for December 29, 2015
December 31, 2015 11:43AM
New snow: 16 inches
Total settled snow depth: 38 inches (at 8,600 feet)
High temperature: 39 degrees F (December 27)
Low temperature: -13 degrees F (December 25)

Ski Conditions and Weather: Wow! Somebody must’ve been good this year. On Christmas Eve Santa brought Tuolumne Meadows a foot of fresh snow! And, throughout the week, these beautiful flakes kept falling from the heavens. The temperatures have remained cold and although the winds ravaged the alpine zone, there are still plenty of areas for pleasant powder skiing. The new snow has settled and the ski touring has improved to a nice supportable surface with boot top powder. Overall, one can rate the ski conditions as ideal.

Avalanche and Snowpack Conditions: For the avalanche advisory for this area of the Sierra Nevada go to http://www.esavalanche.org for the Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center.

Once the clouds lifted one could see a few old avalanches on some north and west facing slopes, all on steep rocky terrain. These avalanches most likely occurred during or immediately following the wet storm that added significant weight to the existing fragile snowpack. Since then, the snowpack has had time to settle after these storms and the hazard has lessened significantly. The snow that fell this week was low in density and no new avalanche activity was observed. Weak snow layers do persist on most aspects, however, and one should be most attentive to pockets of wind slab in the alpine zone.

Wildlife: Yesterday after a short but welcomed squall, the clouds parted and the sparkling new snow coated the tree tops. Just then, some of that new snow sprinkled down from the disturbed tree branches just in time to catch a park visitor’s eye. He looked up to see a bright red Pine Grosbeak backlit by the sun in Dana Meadows, while Mt Dana itself appeared as a large volcano-like apparition in the background.

Questions: The Tuolumne Meadows Ski Hut is open! There is an ample supply of firewood and 10 bunks that are available on a first come, first served basis. There is power but no public phone service in Tuolumne Meadows this winter. We can be contacted via email at robert_pilewski@nps.gov, 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; don't count on electricity or phone service at the ski hut. Happy New Year! Laura and Rob Pilewski - Tuolumne Winter Rangers.
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