Yosemite in Flood: Snowmelt Peaks in the Sierra Nevada in Late Spring

June 28, 2017

EPOD.YosemiteWaterfall2017_2 (1)

Photographer: Thomas McGuire
Summary Author: Thomas McGuire
After years of drought conditions, 2016-17 has been a year of roughly twice the historical average snowfall in the Sierra Nevada. Waterfalls that had flowed below average for years are in flood this year, as shown above at Yosemite Falls, bringing record attendance to Yosemite through May. The observation point near the base of Bridalveil Fall is so wet that tourists are getting soaked, without a view of the falls, due to the heavy mist.

The Merced River has been at or near flood level for weeks. Some campgrounds that are normally open this time of year are currently flooded. Tioga Road across the Sierras, normally closed by snowpack until early May, is unlikely to open this year before the end of June. Across the Sierras, Mammoth Mountain ski area is projected be hosting skiers into August.

However, the winter season rain and snow wasn't enough to end the drought in California completely. Reservoir levels have recovered, but it may take years for groundwater levels to return to normal. Photo taken on May 30, 2017.

Photo Details: Camera Model: Canon EOS REBEL T5; Lens: EF-S18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II; Focal Length: 20.0mm; Aperture: ƒ/9.0; Exposure Time: 0.0050 s (1/200); ISO equiv: 100; Software: Adobe Photoshop Elements 9.0 Macintosh.