While recent storms have brought a bit of desperately needed rain to the Northern San Joaquin Valley, theyve brought beauty to Yosemite National Park.
Snow has been falling in the higher elevations, though warmer temperatures in Yosemite Valley have meant mostly rain, with light snowfall that hasnt managed to stick.
But its hard to imagine an ugly day in Yosemite, and park spokesman Scott Gediman said the roads are in good shape except for Tioga and Glacier Point roads, which are shut down for the winter season.
The recent snow allowed the park to open its Badger Pass Ski Area, at least for cross-country operations, as of Friday morning. Downhill skiing was set to open for the season today.
Weather conditions could be more dramatic this weekend, as a storm warning is in effect through 4 p.m. Monday for the southern Sierra Nevada. Snow accumulations of 2 to 3 feet are expected above 8,000 feet this weekend. Thats good news for the snowpack, which is woefully inadequate for this time of year.
Heavy winds are expected, as well, with gusts up to 80 mph in the higher areas.
With all that uncertainty in the air, it might be best to postpone a trip to Yosemite until the following weekend. Those who choose to do so will be rewarded with free admission, in honor of Presidents Day, Feb. 15-17. All national parks have waived the admission fees next weekend.
Keeping a close eye on the weekends storm is Dodge Ridge Ski Area in Pinecrest, which has been waiting for enough snow to open for months. In the past two days, the resort got 7 inches at the higher elevations, with 4 inches at the base. Representatives said they are ready to open at nearly a moments notice and hope the weekend will drop enough snow to allow that to happen.
The snow and rain, while welcomed by a desperately dry state, wont do much to alleviate the severe drought. To illustrate that fact, the National Weather Service in Sacramento posted a graphic on its Facebook page with a photo depicting a large bucket and a coffee cup.
This empty 5-gallon bucket represents the lack of water since the 2011-12 winter, the graphic reads. This 10-ounce coffee mug represents how much water this storm will bring by Monday. Please continue to conserve water.