The storm last weekend in Yosemite was a big one: almost four inches of liquid (rain and snow) fell in Yosemite Valley, and Badger Pass, at 7200 feet, got four feet of new snow. Of course one storm, even a large one, isn’t enough to make up for the months of dry weather preceding it; Yosemite has now received about 67% of average precipitation since last July. But the waterfalls got a noticeable boost, there’s a decent snowpack in the high country, and conditions seem more normal—more like a typical March.
Last Saturday night about seven inches of snow fell at my house in Mariposa. At daybreak on Sunday the skies were overcast, but it had stopped snowing, and I decided to try light-painting the beautiful manzanita bush outside my office. I hope the warm lighting in this photograph (below) looks pretty natural, like early-morning sunlight, but it was actually created well before sunrise with a flashlight.
I drove up to Yosemite Valley on Sunday afternoon, hoping to catch the storm clearing, and the valley looked like a winter wonderland. I arrived at Tunnel View just in time to catch the last break in the snow showers that day, with some great clouds boiling over the valley (above). Then another snow squall moved in, blocking the light, and the view. My friend Kirk and I waited, hoping for another break, but it started snowing harder, and eventually we had to give up.
One of the waterfalls that got a boost from the storm was Horsetail Fall. My private workshop student Adarsh and I photographed a rainbow on Horsetail Wednesday morning, and then watched a spectacular show that afternoon as the wind blew spray off the fall (below). At times the spray reached at least a thousand feet above the top of the cliff.
Meanwhile, down in the Merced River Canyon west of the park, the redbud are beginning to bloom. A few have fully blossomed, but most are still just budding out. They should look great in another week or so. There’s also a nice display of poppies across the river from Highway 140 about three miles east of Briceburg. So far this display doesn’t approach the spectacular bloom in March of 2009, but it’s still a beautiful sight.
Another weather system is forecast to reach us this weekend. It won’t be as strong, but Yosemite Valley could get some snow Sunday night.
Michael Frye is a professional photographer specializing in landscapes and nature. He is the author and photographer of The Photographer’s Guide to Yosemite, Yosemite Meditations, and Digital Landscape Photography: In the Footsteps of Ansel Adams and the Great Masters, plus the eBooks Light & Land: Landscapes in the Digital Darkroom, and Exposure for Outdoor Photography. He has written numerous magazine articles on the art and technique of photography, and his images have been published in over thirty countries around the world. Michael has lived either in or near Yosemite National Park since 1983, currently residing just outside the park in Mariposa, California.