Mariposa & Yosemite

Sierra winter wonderland

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK -- Visitors to the floor of the Yosemite Valley on Tuesday were pretty much contained to one intense photographer shooting the snow and ice-covered Merced River and a couple of thieving crows, but the sights in the national park were Christmas-card perfect.

The valley floor received about half a foot of snow Monday and Monday night, according to Jim Bagnall, forecaster for the National Weather Service in Hanford.

Snowplows were abundant in the valley, and chains were required at the Highway 140 Arch Rock entrance to the park on Tuesday. More snow is forecast for this week for the valley floor and the higher elevations.

Bagnall said that Tuolumne Meadows, at about 8,000 feet, got about 18 inches of snow from the latest storm.

"Tonight they will be getting more scattered snow showers in the valley, and more in the higher elevations," Bagnall said.

Although not many people were taking advantage of the beautiful powdery snow on Tuesday, skiers and snow lovers should still find good conditions coming up this weekend.

Another good storm is due in the area on Friday, although it will bring only scattered rain showers to the Merced area.

Merced should also expect another rain storm on Thursday, but without as much rain and warmer temperatures.

The snow level was down to 1,000 feet with the Tuesday storm, according to Bagnall. Catheys Valley had a good coverage of snow, although snow was sparse in Mariposa. But Midpines had about three inches of snow, with more forecast for the area through the week.

Yosemite's temperature was expected to be in the mid-teens on Tuesday night, and about 30 degrees on Wednesday, Bagnall said. The next storm should be a bit warmer, but with more snow expected at all elevations. Visitors to the park should be prepared for snow and ice conditions and have chains or snow tires on their vehicles.

Tioga Pass was closed for the season on Tuesday, and Glacier Point Road was also closed for the winter. The two roads are the main ones across the high country of Yosemite National Park. This is the latest in the season that Tioga Pass has closed since about 1980.

Badger Pass is expected to open for the season on Friday, and Yosemite Valley will more than likely see many more people this weekend than one lone photographer and two quarrelsome crows.

Reporter Carol Reiter can be reached at (209) 385-2486 or