If you have driven by Mono Lake in the last week, you might have seen trucks and heavy equipment working just east of Highway 395 below the Tioga Lodge.
A new water year began on October 1, and it follows the record water year of 2017 when 27.7″ of precipitation fell in Lee Vining. Given the increasing variability of California precipitation, a repeat performance of a wet year is unlikely. October 2017 concluded with 0.08″ of rain, well below the 0.83-inch 30-year average. Average temperatures ran very close to average for daily highs with overnight lows falling slightly below average.
November left a more notable wake in the Lee Vining weather annals. Temperatures soared well above average and the month concluded as the second-warmest November overall, a small 0.8°F difference behind November 1995. The real measure of warmth was in terms of increasing overnight low temperatures. Average low temperatures in November eclipsed the 30-year record by over 2°F and averaged above freezing (34°F) for the first time. (more…)
Tioga Pass is closed, but there is a lot activity in the Mono Basin as the peak runoff season is soon to arrive. Streamflows will soon reach levels not seen in decades as 206% of average runoff—the May 1 forecast—comes rushing down in the Mono Basin.
This much water is an inspiration to witness, especially after five years of brutal drought conditions. Water is moving down some drainages and steep canyons that rarely, if ever, transport water during the runoff season. Creeks are already flowing at dangerously high levels and attempting to cross Mono Basin streams along fallen logs or other unusual crossing sites during peak flows could be a life or death decision—use extreme caution.
This is a benchmark year, and there is a lot of work for Mono Lake Committee staff documenting stream flows, coordinating critical information with Los Angeles Department of Water & Power, Southern California Edison, stream scientists, and other authorities to make sure that everyone can anticipate the challenges and changes ahead for Mono Lake and its tributary streams. Stay tuned—we plan on sharing as much information and as many images as possible here on the Mono-logue, on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. We have not forgotten the drought years, but forgive us if we temporarily revel in amnesia.
Water is everywhere, cottonwoods are throwing cotton, flowers are blooming, and birds are singing. With warming temperatures and longer days birds are becoming more active at Mono Lake, and you can see and hear the birds with a guide, twice weekly at Mono Lake County Park beginning now through the summer.
County Park offers a diverse habitat for a variety of birds from lakeshore to wetland to towering cottonwoods. Bird walks are free and begin at 8:00am every Friday and Sunday morning through September 3, 2017. Meet at the parking lot and bring sunscreen, water, hat, and binoculars (if you have them). Whether you have a passing interest in birds, or you are a beginning birder, or an advanced birder, there are feathers, songs, and festive color for all.
As everyone in California knows, it’s been a remarkable year for precipitation. At the highest elevations above Mono Lake in the vicinity of Tioga Pass, we may be facing a snowpack over 200% of average. April 1 snow surveys revealed nearby sites at all-time record snow depth and water content, while other sites, including Tioga Pass itself, fell just short of past record levels. Snow depth in the region likely moved upward with recent April storms, cold temperatures, and generally unsettled spring weather. (more…)
A wet winter has brought needed relief to a drought-stricken Mono Lake. However, a glimpse at Lee Vining weather data reveals that predictions about climate change in California and the Sierra Nevada are becoming real.
Warming temperatures, along with more extreme and less-frequent precipitation, are reflected in our local weather. The record-setting drought of the last five years still casts a shadow across the Mono Basin. Multi-year impacts to the watershed and ecosystem have accumulated due to record high temperatures, remarkably low runoff, and wildfires. As climate forces further change, monitoring, assessment, and adaptation will be critical to the future restoration and protection of Mono Lake. (more…)
The Mono Lake Committee is hiring a Facilities Superintendent position in Lee Vining, California. This is a part-time, year-round caretaker position.
The position performs routine maintenance and upkeep for the Mono Lake Committee Information Center & Bookstore, offices, Mono Basin Field Station, and Mono Basin Outdoor Education Center. Winter operation may include snow removal when winters bring measurable snow to town. The work schedule is variable at 5–20 hours per week, and is often dictated by seasonal needs. Housing is available on site at the Mono Basin Field Station. Some basic maintenance/caretaker/property management background is preferable. See the complete job description, and for more information contact Bartshé Miller, Education Director.
A swarm of moderate earthquakes struck overnight with two magnitude 5.7 and one magnitude 5.5 centered approximately 30 miles north-northeast of Lee Vining, just inside the Nevada border. No damage was reported, but most residents were awakened by a moderate rocking motion lasting less than 30 seconds. The temblors were felt from Hawthorne, Nevada and across the Central Sierra and Central Valley. Minor earthquake activity continues in the region, including a small earthquake along the southeast shore of Mono Lake. The Mono Basin and Eastern Sierra are geologically active, and there is always concern and speculation with future volcanic activity. Earthquake swarms like this have occurred in the past near Long Valley and Mammoth Lakes, and thus far all have faded into geologic history.
In October the very busy folks at Sierra Solar installed new solar panels on the Mono Basin Outdoor Education Center (OEC) roof. The photovoltaic system is the first step in the energy and water efficiency development of the OEC site, demonstrating the connection of energy and water and the increasing value and need to minimize our carbon and water footprint.
Thanks to a bequest by the Ward Family, the new solar panels will offset approximately 80–100% of all electrical use at the site. Because the Mono Basin Outdoor Education Center is on a long-term lease (more…)
Despite a strong El Niño and recent rain and snow in California, drought conditions continue to plague the Eastern Sierra and Mono Lake. As of March 16 extreme and exceptional drought conditions persist in Mono and Inyo counties, a drought that is now in its fifth year. Recent winter storms brought very little precipitation east of the Sierra crest and the outlook for the rest of March looks generally dry.
This means that many precipitation measuring stations east and west of Highway 395 will end up between 40% and 75% of normal for April 1. The one exception (more…)