Winter snow storms force Yosemite National Park to close

The National Park Service has closed its iconic Yosemite National Park as the Sierra Nevada range braced for a potentially dangerous winter storm.

The National Weather Service office in Hanford, California, which covers the park, on Saturday morning issued a blizzard warning for the mountains north of Tulare County.

The weather service said travel from Saturday through 10 a.m. Sunday will be “dangerous to impossible.”

Six to 18 inches of snow were forecast for the Yosemite Valley floor but much more could blanket the highest elevations where some of the park’s roads reach. The weather service said areas above 6,000 feet could see up to eight feet of snow, with wind gusts up to 65 mph hitting exposed ridgetops and along the crests. Wind chills could drop to 20 below zero.

The park closed at 12:01 a.m. Friday and required guests in its hotels to check out by 11 a.m. Friday. The park will be closed until at least noon on Sunday, maybe longer.

Yosemite generally is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It’s busiest in August, when it averages more than 600,000 visitors, but about 153,000 visitors come each March for hiking, downhill and cross-country skiing and snowboarding, ice skating, snowshoeing, and visiting its museums and centers.

The closure comes about a year after 15 feet of snow shut the park down from Feb. 28 to March 18, 2023. The record-breaking snow caused several rockfalls and damaged park property.

Yosemite fans reacting to news of the closure on social media, especially some nature photographers, said they understood it was the right call for safety but they wished they could see the storm’s beauty in the scenic park. Of course, anyone can watch live for free, from the comfort of their homes, on Yosemite’s webcams.

Author: Terry Jefferson


Terry Jefferson is a journalist with more than two decades of experience as a reporter and freelance writer. He was won several journalist awards over the years.

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