Clearing storm from Tunnel View, January 2012
A powerful storm is forecast to reach California soon. It could be the strongest storm here since 2008
, with lots of rain, high-elevation snow, and potentially damaging winds. Yosemite could get two to three inches of rain, with a couple feet of snow above 8,000 feet. Areas further north could get even more. Meteorologists are talking about potential flooding in some places, and mudslides in burned areas.
Is this the start of a wet winter? It’s too early to tell, but we’re certainly due for one. There are two more storms forecast for next week, and although they’re not expected to be as strong, it seems like we’re in a wet pattern right now – and when was the last time we could say that? Although no one wants to see serious flooding, we really, really need the rain.
Of course interesting weather can create interesting photo opportunities. Snow levels with this oncoming storm are expected to start at around 8,000 feet, lower quickly to 6,000 feet, and possibly get down to 4,500 feet at the tail end of the storm. That’s a little too high to reach Yosemite Valley (at 4,000 feet), but if the snow-level prediction is a little bit off the valley could get a dusting of snow just before skies clear.
But even without snow, any clearing storm can be photogenic. It looks the storm will clear either late Friday or early Saturday in Yosemite. The valley might look a little like the photograph above, with bare trees on the valley floor, but lots of new snow on the rim. And if we’re really lucky the storm will clear just before sunset, or just before sunrise, with low-angle sunlight and lots of mist.
Let’s hope we get many more opportunities to photograph clearing storms this winter in California – and, more importantly, get lots of rain and snow to fill up the creeks, rivers, and reservoirs.
— Michael Frye
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Michael Frye is a professional photographer specializing in landscapes and nature. He is the author or principal photographer of The Photographer’s Guide to Yosemite, Yosemite Meditations, Yosemite Meditations for Women, Yosemite Meditations for Adventurers, and Digital Landscape Photography: In the Footsteps of Ansel Adams and the Great Masters. He has also written three eBooks: Light & Land: Landscapes in the Digital Darkroom, Exposure for Outdoor Photography, and Landscapes in Lightroom 5: The Essential Step-by-Step Guide. Michael 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.