Mono Basin Winter Update: Spring is comingMarch 4th, 2009 by Greg, Information & Restoration Specialist
The Spring equinox is less than three weeks away. The days are getting longer and the sun is getting higher in the sky, making it harder for snow to stay on the ground around Mono Lake–except in shady places. More snow has melted than has fallen in the past week.
A week ago rain and warmer temperatures began melting the abundant snow dropped earlier in the month. Very high winds (gusts over 50 mph on several days) during the last week, combined with the warm temperatures and dry weather, stripped the snow away from the elevations around Mono Lake and Lee Vining. On Sunday night and Monday over 1/2 an inch of rain falling below 7,000′ continued to eat away at the remaining piles of snow in town. The rain finally turned to snow Monday night, and about 4 inches of snow finally accumulated last night. An unsettled week is in the forecast–more snow is expected today and tonight. To date Lee Vining has had only about 60% of average precipitation for the season.
Winter road closures remain in effect. All roads are subject to controls and closures during storms. Roads around Mono Lake have little snow on them but snow tires might be a good idea for a few days.
We are still a couple of months away from tours starting at the lake, but you can still visit the lake, see the tufa towers, and learn about the unique ecosystem and the successful battle for its protection. The Scenic Area Visitor Center is closed until April 1st, but the Mono Lake Committee Information Center & Bookstore in Lee Vining is open 9:00-5:00 daily. Stop in to see our new exhibit screen showing photos of different lake levels!
The lake level is finally rising with nearly average February precipitation, and currently stands at about 6382.31 feet above sea level.
Spring birds are arriving! Red-winged Blackbirds are back! See our new and improved Mono Basin and Nearby Eastern Sierra Birds and Other Wildlife Sightings page. You too can post a bird sighting!
The high country has been picking up snow while it has been rainy at Mono Lake. The snow water content at Gem Pass almost doubled in February, and picked up another 6 inches of water content in the last two days (about 6 feet of snow!). Snow surveys show the mountains have caught up to 92% of average snowpack! Still, many storms that reach the coast just aren’t making it over to the east side, leaving us with predominantly dry weather prior to this wet week. Check the avalanche report before leaving ski area boundaries. June Mountain Ski Area is open. Check the ice climbing report for the latest ice conditions.