But this year Yosemite received only a tenth of that: 1.33 inches total for January and February. The Sacramento Bee says it’s the driest January and February on record for the northern Sierra Nevada.
Since storms have been so rare lately, any forecast that calls for precipitation is big news, and we’ve got just such a forecast this week. Meteorologists are predicting a medium-sized storm to reach Yosemite tonight and tomorrow, with lingering showers on Thursday and Friday. The timing is hard to predict from the current forecast, but it’s likely that we’ll see clearing storm conditions either late Wednesday, Thursday or Friday. With the showery weather there may be several clearing-storm events during that time.
As I point out in my Photographer’s Guide to Yosemite book and iPhone app, early March is the best time of year to photograph Tunnel View and Valley View (a.k.a. Gates of the Valley), because the late-afternoon light is balanced between El Capitan on the left and Cathedral Rocks on the right. If a storm clears late in the day that will create ideal conditions at both of those classic views. Of course there are a few other good spots in Yosemite as well.
The precipitation will start as rain, but then snow levels are predicted to lower to around 4000 feet by Wednesday night, which is the elevation for Yosemite Valley. But snow-level predictions are often wrong, so it could go either way. My guess is that the Valley will get some snow, but it might only be a dusting.
But whether it snows or not, any moisture is welcome at this point! Let’s hope that March brings us many more storms.
— Michael Frye
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.