‘Bring a shovel’: Yosemite partly reopens after blizzard brings as much as 45 inches of snow

El Capitan rises above dark pine trees, amid some fog, with blue sky and white clouds in the background.
A view of El Capitan as snow blanketed Yosemite National Park on Feb. 22.
(Tayfun Coskun / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Yosemite National Park partly reopened on Sunday after a blizzard that brought as much as 45 inches of snow in some areas and high winds that toppled trees.

The park reopened around noon, with officials urging visitors to certain campsites: “Be prepared for winter camping (bring a shovel!).” Weather officials say the likelihood of another closure in the next week is low.

Although officials expected that 6 to 12 inches of snow could fall in Yosemite Valley — the most popular part of Yosemite National Park — the total turned out to be twice that, at about 25 inches, according to the National Weather Service office in Hanford.


Typically, with some of the more common storms that move through the area, Yosemite sees somewhere between 6 inches and, at the higher end, 18 inches of snow, according to meteorologist Carlos Molina, with the Hanford office.

“This actually was more like two times to almost four times what they would normally get with a more normal storm,” Molina said.

Yosemite National Park said it was closing through at least noon Sunday because of an epic blizzard bearing down on the Sierra Nevada.

March 1, 2024

Toward the entrance of the park, 33 inches of snow fell, the meteorologist said. Toward the east entrance, Tuolumne Meadows received 45 inches of snow.

But the closure of the park, Molina said, had more to do with the high winds than the heavy snowfall. Winds hit between 50 and 60 mph during the storm, and visibility “was maybe 10 to 100 feet.”

“A 50- to 60-mile-an-hour wind was actually strong enough to knock down some of the dead trees that Yosemite has right now,” Molina said. “The public was kept out because, as the storm was moving through ... they didn’t want anyone in the park to get hurt.”

Although weather officials are expecting clearer conditions on Monday, they are also anticipating more precipitation on Tuesday.


From 3 to 6 inches of additional snow is expected that day.

“It’s going to be the more typical, the more normal, storm that’s going to be passing through Yosemite,” Molina said. “Definitely less than what this storm produced.”

Another storm is forecast to arrive in California closer to Wednesday, Molina said, but that one may affect Southern California more than the northern or central parts of the state.

Clear conditions are expected by Thursday and Friday. Molina said the likelihood of the park closing again “is very low.”

The Ahwahnee on Sunday posted on Facebook that the partial reopening of the park included the historic hotel and “all lodging, dining and retail locations throughout Yosemite Valley.”

Hotel officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Visitors to Yosemite should enter the park via Highway 41/Wawona Road and Highway 140/El Portal Road. Officials said to expect snowy conditions.

Depending on the weather conditions, Big Oak Flat Road, Badger Pass Road and ski area, and Hetch Hetchy Road will reopen on Monday at noon, Yosemite National Park posted on Facebook, along with the Hodgdon Meadow Campground.