Snow is minimal below 8,000 feet on the east side of Highway 120, but snow depth increases exponentially above 8,500 feet. Photo by Bartshé Miller.
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 normal. 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.
Rocks, silt, and one of the many avalanches that have buried the Tioga Pass Road. Photo by Bartshé Miller.
It will require a lot of time and effort to clear Highway 120 West (Tioga Pass) through Yosemite National Park at the higher elevations. Avalanches, debris, large rocks, fallen trees, record snowpack, runoff, and road damage will slow the process. The effort will likely involve not only the National Park Service, but also Caltrans, Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, and Mono County road crews.
Work to clear the road officially began on April 14, and Caltrans also did some preliminary work clearing some of the large avalanches that have fallen across Highway 120 on the Mono Lake side of Tioga Pass.
Full story and photos here