Spring update: Snow is melting fastMarch 24th, 2010 by Greg, Information & Restoration Specialist
In mid-March the sun began melting the snow in the Mono Basin very quickly, and now on the fifth day of spring, many south-facing slopes are bare, and below 7,000 feet the remaining snow is retreating quickly into the shade. Above 7,000 feet deep snow remains on most slopes. Mono Lake is about 1/2 foot lower than at this time last year.
NEW WEBCAM FEATURE!
There is a new service on the Web that creates up-to-the-minute time-lapse movies of Webcams, and we are testing it on the Mono Lake Webcam page below the latest image. Watch it here!
Highs have been in the 50s and lows have been in the 20-30s with sunny days. Our typical spring wind storms are coming—one last night brought gusts up to 50 mph. Our two-week dry spell is coming to an end with a chance of showers tonight. A series of wet storms is expected to begin next week and last through mid-April. Click here for current conditions.
Most seasonal closures remain in effect. Tioga Pass (Hwy 120) and Sonora Pass (Hwy 108) are typically closed through most of spring—clearing the deep winter snowpack begins in mid-April and takes at least a month. The Bodie Road (Hwy 270) typically opens in April. Monitor Pass (Hwy 89) opened yesterday! Rumor has it that Hwy 120 East to Benton and the June Lake Loop will this week. Most dirt roads near Mono Lake are snow-free or will be soon—South Tufa is accessible to all vehicles. Carry chains and check weather and road conditions before leaving home.
March has been a fairly dry month, but more storms are on the way as we approach the average date of the deepest snowpack, April 1st. Based on the March 1st snow surveys, the snow water content is close to 100% of average. The deep snowpack still extends to the floor of the Mono Basin on north facing slopes. Caltrans plows have reached the Warren Fork of Lee Vining Creek on their way to Tioga Pass–plowing inside the park typically starts April 15th. Click here for a Tuolumne Meadows Winter Update.
California Gulls and Osprey are here! Birdsong fills the spring air! Post your bird sightings here.
CLOSURES / OPENINGS
On April 1st, the island closure goes into effect until August 1st—you must stay 1 mile away from Mono Lake’s islands in order to protect nesting birds.
On April 1st, the Mono Basin National Forest Scenic Area Visitor Center opens for the season. Days and hours are limited at first (closed Tues-Wed) with full operation by the end of May.
On April 24th, fishing season opens in all Mono County waters. Many Lee Vining businesses and campgrounds that were closed for the winter begin to open by then. See the Calendar of Events for more upcoming events.