View Full Version : Yosemite weather

J.L. Kennedy
27-Dec-2005, 19:53
Does anyone know how to get very specific and very current weather information about Yosemite? Weather.com says that it will be getting heavy snow tomorrow and I am considering driving up there tonight from southern California in order to capture on film those little blobs of snow in the middle of the Merced river that I always see on calenders but never in person! The various webcams around the valley floor don't help because its already dark.

John Kasaian
27-Dec-2005, 20:15
I'm in Fresno and they say we're in between storms. The last one (yesterday) must have really dumped snow in the mountains. Very high winds were reported in Tahoe. The Glacier Point road and Tioga Pass roads have been closed. Another storm is reported to hit sometime tomorrow---I don't know how bad it will be, but HWY 41 can be really treacherous in white out conditions (I launched a K5 Jimmy about 70' down into the Avalanche Creek canyon about 20 years ago!)

You can probably get some good info if you call the concierge desk at the Yosemite Lodge or the Awahnee regarding what to expect in Yosemite Valley as far as snow.

Take chains even if you have a 4WD, they'll ask at the ranger station and they do check sometimes.

When you reach Fresno, call Caltrans for an update, its sometimes better to access the valley through Merced in the Winter during storms.

John Kasaian
27-Dec-2005, 22:08

I don't know of anyone who uses studded tires in CA so its quite possible that they might not be permitted, though chains and cables are. I'd suggest checking with the CHP about studs. 4WD with tires marked M+S are good to go as well, but the NPS, at Yosemite anyway, will require you to have chains or cables on board too. Very rarely will CALTRANS require chains on a 4WD with M+S marked tires and if they do, believe me, conditions are baaaad.

Donner Pass on 80 is a major pass for trucks so they'll keep it clear if they possibly can, though sometimes if wind is an issue, 80 will be closed and 50 going through South Lake Tahoe will be open since it travels kind of deep in a fairly narrow canyon most of the way and isn't as effected by high winds even though it is 2 lanes most of the way(usually with a slow "gambler's special" bus with bad rings on the lane in front of you)

Victor Samou Wong
27-Dec-2005, 22:09
I would actually try doppler radar for the region if you can get it, or if there is one. Usually many of the weather agencies (like the noaa) have their doppers on line. I cant speak for Yosimite itself however because I'm in Canada and am more familliar with looking at Canadian weather. On the Environment Canada website, you can even animate the radar over the last hour so that you can watch where precipitation is. You can also try GOES, the geosynchronous satellite feed that many of the weather agencies use. Once again, GOES is updated something like once every 15 minutes. Try this on for size:
Canadian doppler updates once every 10 minutes, which is nice.


Jeffrey Sipress
27-Dec-2005, 23:13
Yeah, J.L., we all want those little blobs!!!

Timing is crucial.. The Half dome webcam was out all day today.... You really take your chances. It could take a number of trips to nail the perfect timing of a breaking up storm. Or, stay in the area for a week during a storm, if you got the time.

Dave Henry
27-Dec-2005, 23:14
I always watch for storms from the north. They bring the greatest possibility of snow way down in the valley. At 4K ft., the valley doesn't get much snow.

The current flurry of storms are from the SW and the weather people call it the "Pineapple Express". That brings wave after wave of rain but little snow. The currrent forecast is for snow at 8K ft. dropping to about 6K tomorrow. Temps well above snow making.

Here's a couple TV sites I watch here in Sacramento:



Here's the NOAA site for Yosemite Valley:

Over the years, I have found it best to get there before the main storm arrives. That way, you can wake up to "clearing winter storm" and not worry about trying to get there after the fact. Yosemite isn't known for their efficient snow removal. Also, take a wide-blade shovel to carve out a spot for your car. Otherwise you'll drive in circles around the valley looking for somewhere to park. They don't plow many of the regular turn-outs. Only the larger parking lots. Snowshoes will also help you get around once you carve out that nice little spot.

Routes 41 from Fresno and 120 from Manteca traverse ridges and passes that get the main force of the storm. Hwy 140 is the "year 'round" route that rarely gets blocked. Plus there are many hotels in Mariposa and El Portal that are within striking distance of the valley. I always see a ranger at Bridalveil falls (hwy 41) and 120 looking for chains. You should always carry them with you. If you don't have them, they'll send you down Hwy 140.

Wait for a good cold storm and get there before before it hits and make your own Clearing Winter Storm.

Have fun!

Kevin Crisp
28-Dec-2005, 07:14
What Dave said, the best, most current (ever changing) information is probably going to come from NOAA.

Keith S. Walklet
28-Dec-2005, 13:24
Don't forget to check the new Yosemite webcams at www.yosemite.org

They now have four. One at Tioga Pass, Sentinel Dome, Turtleback Dome and Ahwahnee Meadow. You can see what the snow level currently is and in conjunction with weather broadcasts and on-line satellite shots of clouds at places like www.weatherunderground.com, get a good feeling for what's going on.

Mark Erickson
29-Dec-2005, 11:15

I have friends and relatives who live near Lake Tahoe and they run studded tires all winter. The California Highway Patrol FAQ at www.chp.ca.gov/html/answers.html (http://www.chp.ca.gov/html/answers.html) has the answer you're looking for:

The California Vehicle Code [Section 27454 (e)], permits studded tires to be used on vehicles between November 1 and April 30 of each year. The number of studs or the percentage of metal in contact with the roadway cannot exceed three percent of the total tire area in contact with the roadway.

Hope this helps....

Hugh Sakols
29-Dec-2005, 17:00
I was in the Valley just 1 hour ago and it is warm!!! - No snow on the the valley floor. Tomarrow another storm is supposed to bring more white stuff. Lets hope it's a cold one. As of now there is no snow in the valley. I will post something if this changes tomarrow - I'm in El Portal.