Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Heat and monsoon

It's been really hot in Yosemite for the past week, with Yosemite Valley temperatures in the high 90's (but only the high 30's for European visitors...)
While it feels like El Portal could just burst into flame at any moment (it's been up to 110 degrees) the park has been having a surprisingly light fire season to date. The Cascade Fire, east of Crane Flat has been burning quietly for two months now and is still not quite 700 acres. There's a small lightning-caused fire at the top of Vernal Fall and another tiny blaze near Porcupine Flat.
Monsoon moisture that's come in with the heat has made for great cloud shows ("higher Sierras" in Muir's words) recently. You can partake via webcam without threat of hail or lightning. The Merced River has actually doubled in volume in Yosemite, right up to a normal/average flow, because of the upstream rains. A bit of rain fell in Yosemite Valley and west yesterday afternoon - what a pleasant change.
We look forward to the southward migration of birds of prey over the next several weeks. Michael Ross will lead a field seminar on September 8 for those who want to observe this annual phenomenon in the high country.