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Mono Lake’s visible rise, November to November

Tuesday, January 9th, 2018 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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We didn’t know it in November 2016, but the severe drought that had plagued Mono Lake and California for five years was nearly over. After record-setting winter precipitation and subsequent record-setting runoff last summer, Mono Lake had risen 4.2 feet by November 2017.

That difference in lake level is clearly visible in these satellite photos from the folks at Planet, most notably on the landbridge near Negit Island and the white “bathtub ring” around the lake’s shore. After tracking and celebrating Mono Lake’s rise from up close last year, it’s fun to see it in a big-picture view! (more…)

Happy winter solstice from Mono Lake

Thursday, December 21st, 2017 by Andrew, Digital Engagement Coordinator
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As the Northern Hemisphere starts to tilt back toward the sun, we welcome more light, longer days, and a new season. Everything is beginning to slow down—streams that were raging with record flows this year are beginning to freeze, the aspens have lost their leaves and gone dormant, the thousands of birds that used the Mono Basin to breed or stage their migration have mostly left for warmer climes, and visitation to the Information Center & Bookstore has slowed with the closing of Tioga Pass last month.

The banks of Lee Vining Creek are just beginning to freeze. Photo by Andrew Youssef.

Although things have slowed, the Mono Basin never ceases to amaze. We’ve already awoken to several days of poconip ice fog (more…)

Lee Vining weather almanac: A new water year

Monday, December 18th, 2017 by Bartshé, Education Director
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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.

Warm November view from Mono Lake.

Average low temperatures in November 2017 stayed above freezing for the first time on record. Photo by Robbie Di Paolo.

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…)

The Season Seldom Seen: Winter Ecology of the Mono Basin

Tuesday, December 12th, 2017 by Nora, Lead Naturalist Guide
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Have you ever wondered where all the tiny chipmunks that skitter up the lodgepole pines all summer go when the landscape is covered with several feet of snow? Or how they could possibly survive the cold temperatures and lack of food for months on end? What about how plants bounce back after being buried in snow? This winter we are excited to offer a new Field Seminar focusing on these questions and more!

A view of Mono Lake and the White Mountains from Lundy Canyon in January 2017. Photo by Bartshe Miller.

The Season Seldom Seen: Winter Ecology of the Mono Basin will investigate the connections plants and animals have with their winter environments in addition to what factors cause winter in the first place. Winter ecology reveals a new side of animal and plant life that is invisible until (more…)

Tioga Pass closed for the season

Thursday, November 30th, 2017 by Andrew, Digital Engagement Coordinator
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Tioga Pass (Highway 120 through Yosemite National Park) is now closed for the season, due to hazardous driving conditions and snow accumulation at higher elevations. The road will remain closed throughout the winter months until weather conditions permit reopening in the spring. Tioga Pass typically reopens sometime in May or June.

Tioga Pass (Highway 120 through Yosemite) is now closed for the season. Photo by Andrew Youssef.

Always check current road conditions and weather before making a trip to the Eastern Sierra, and give us a call for the most current information: (760) 647-6595.

Tioga Pass closed due to an incoming storm

Tuesday, November 14th, 2017 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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Caltrans closed the lower gate on Highway 120 West (Tioga Pass) today due to an incoming storm. From the Caltrans press release:

“The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has closed the lower gate on State Route 120 West (Tioga Pass) to the Yosemite National Park entrance gate today, Tuesday, November 14th at 11:00 a.m. due to incoming inclement weather. This closure is in conjunction with the closure of the Yosemite National Park gate also closed at 11:00 a.m.

“The partial reopening of SR 120 West is dependent upon favorable weather. Please check local highway conditions before planning to use SR 120 West.”

Winter field seminars at Mono Lake

Wednesday, October 25th, 2017 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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This coming winter we are pleased to offer three field seminars to take advantage of this very special season—one winter ecology and two winter photography seminars!

Poconip ice fog shrouds Mono Lake, with just a sliver of sun illuminating the base of Black Point. Photo courtesy of Joe Decker.

___________________________________________

Winter Ecology of the Mono Basin •
January 13–14, 2018 • Nora Livingston

Mono Basin Winter Photography •
January 26–28, 2018
 • Joe Decker

Mono Lake by Moonlight •
March 2–4, 2018
 • Joe Decker
___________________________________________

Registration will open on Wednesday, November 1 for Mono Lake Committee members only, and on December 1 for non-members. To sign up, call (760) 647-6595 or register online. (more…)

Tioga Pass temporarily closing tonight

Thursday, October 19th, 2017 by Andrew, Digital Engagement Coordinator
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Caltrans has announced that Tioga Pass (Highway 120) will temporarily close this evening at 5:00pm at the lower gate due to incoming inclement weather. The road will be reevaluated on Friday.

Additionally, State Route 108 (Sonora Pass) will close from Kennedy Meadows to the east side winter closure gate (west of Pickel Meadows) at 3:00pm today. State Route 4 (Ebbetts Pass) will close from Lake Alpine to gate #3 (west of Silver Creek campground) at 9:00pm today.

Tioga Pass will temporarily close today at 5:00pm due to an incoming storm. Photo from May 2017 by Bartshe Miller.

Always check current road conditions and weather before making a trip to the Eastern Sierra, and give us a call for the most current Tioga Pass information: (760) 647-6595.

Timelapse video: Watch Mono Lake rise before your eyes

Friday, October 13th, 2017 by Andrew, Digital Engagement Coordinator
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So far in 2017, Mono Lake has risen an astounding 4.5 vertical feet before leveling off in the past month. About 3 feet of that total lake rise occurred from mid-May to mid-August. Watch below for a quick 20-second timelapse showing the incredible lake rise this summer, or scroll down and see the full two-and-half-minute timelapse video.

(more…)

Observing four years of an ever-changing Mono Lake

Monday, August 21st, 2017 by Andrew, Digital Engagement Coordinator
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June 2014—Mono Lake level: 6380.4 feet above sea level

One of my first visits to Mono Lake on a full moon in 2014. Photo by Andrew Youssef.

Just three years ago, during the middle of California’s historic drought, I visited Mono Lake for the first time. The large, salty lake in the middle of the high desert amazed me and I vividly remember admiring the incredible tufa towers for the first time one summer evening. That was before I worked for the Mono Lake Committee, before I understood the significance of Mono Lake’s level, and the last time I would see the lake with that much water until this month (August 2017). (more…)

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