Fresno Bee Newsroom Blog

Yosemite will begin Tioga assessment Monday

It’s balmy in the San Joaquin Valley, but it’s still winter above 8,000 feet in the Sierra. Yosemite National Park on Monday will begin to assess the snow covering high country Tioga Road in preparation for plowing.

Each spring, the reopening of this road is anxiously awaited by businesses on both sides of the mountain, as well as many thousands of tourists.

In many years, it is open by Memorial Day, but not always. The earliest the road has opened in the last few decades has been April 29 in 1988, which was a drought year in California.

Will the road be open before that date? Nobody knows, says park spokeswoman Kari Cobb. She says crews on snowmobiles will take a couple of days to assess avalanche danger and snow conditions. Then park leaders will decide when the plowing begins.

By all accounts, it was a dry winter in the Sierra, but some places had more snow than others. The watershed for Yosemite’s two main rivers — the Tuolumne and the Merced — got a little more than half the usual snowfall. But the snowpack above 8,000 feet is 70% of average.

“There’s a lot of interest in the reopening,” Cobb said. “We will get updates on our web site as often as possible.”

The California Department of Transportation has cleared the road above the east-side community of Lee Vining all the way to the Tioga Pass entrance station, she said.

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