Category Archives: Off The Grid

Off The Grid: Half Dome-Yosemite National Park, California

One of America’s most iconic mountain faces is located in east-central California, within Yosemite National Park. This granite dome, known as Half Dome (8,836ft), is most notable for its appearance to have lost half of its northwest face. While this is not entirely true, recently (March 2009) a rock slide of 1,500,000 cubic feet occurred near Ahwiyah Point adding to this affect.

For many years Half Domes peak (or summit) was deemed unreachable due to the smooth nature of the granite peak. When wet it was impossible for even the most daring of climbers to attempt. This was true until 1875 when climbers drilled and placed iron eyebolts into the smooth granite, allowing climber George Anderson to make its first accent. Now Half Dome welcomes nearly 50,000 accents per year.

Half Dome’s close proximity to the Pacific Ocean leaves it wide open for copious amounts of snow during the winter months and this weekend is poised to prove that point. A series of disturbances will track from northwest to southeast across California over the next couple days ushering in an abundance of Pacific moisture that will translate to heavy snow accumulations for Half Dome’s summit. A mix of rain and snow will be expected early tonight, before snow levels crash overnight and transition all precipitation to snow over the summit. Periods of moderate to heavy snow will then be expected into the early evening hours on Saturday, with as much as 20 inches of accumulation possible. Snow is expected to become light for the early overnight hours as one system pushes southeast and the next system drifts southeast. Near daybreak Sunday snow will once again become moderate to heavy at times, with periods of heavy snow continuing through the overnight hours. An additional 30 inches of snowfall will be possible Sunday and Sunday night. Gusty winds will be possible as well, with gusts as high as 70-80 mph possible near the summit.

Saturday: Cloudy and windy, with periods of heavy snow. High 24, Low 10.
Sunday: Cloudy and windy, with periods of heavy snow. High 21, Low 8.

TWC: ** No Forecast Available. **

AW: ** No Forecast Available. **

NWS: ** No Forecast Available. **

WB: ** No Forecast Available. **

OTG Rating: >>5<< Reaching Half Dome’s summit is certainly no easy task. It usually takes a pre-dawn start (between 1-3am), 4,800ft in elevation change, 7-23 miles of hiking (depending on the route) and nerves of steel while climbing the cables. What keeps the OTG rating a bit lower are the large crowds that attempt the summit and the popularity of the National Park (Yosemite) that it sits in. Some weekends see as many as 800-1,000 attempts per day.

Note: The ‘OTG Rating’ is based on a scale of 1 to 10; 10 being completely Off The Grid and 1 being within a major city or otherwise Grid Lock.

Off The Grid: Snowmass Lake, Colorado

In our second edition of Off The Grid we will be traveling deep into the heart of the Colorado Rockies. Located about 12 miles southwest of Aspen, CO, tower some of Colorado’s most picturesque mountains: the Maroon Bells.

Appropriately named for the maroon coloring of the mud rock they are composed of, the Maroon Bells are sought by vacationers and adventures from all around the world. Lying within this sub-range of the Elk Mountains is also one of Colorado’s most pristine lakes: Snowmass Lake.

Snowmass Lake sits at the base of 14,092ft Snowmass Mountain, at about 11,000ft. Its alpine waters are primarily fed by the massive snowfield that resides on the eastern slope of Snowmass Mountain, which is usually present into July.
Getting to Snowmass Lake is no walk in the park however. After about a 20 minute drive southwest of Aspen, one must gear up for a 7.5 mile trek to the lake that gains over 2,800ft in 4 miles. Certainly not for the faint at heart, the trek takes an average of 6-8 hours to complete one way, assuming good weather. It is difficult for even the advanced hikers to make a day-trip into the lake and out the same day, making this location truly Off The Grid.

While admittedly late in the season, some hearty backpackers no doubt will be making their way out to the lake this week and weekend. And they chose a great week/weekend to do it! A ridge of high pressure continues to bring dry conditions across much of the western United States, which is expected to carry into the weekend as well. Along with this high pressure temperatures are expected to run above normal through the weekend, which should melt much of the snow that has fallen around Snowmass Lake by the weekend. Winds will remain rather weak out of the north over the next couple of days, but will likely be variable at times, begin that Snowmass Lake is surrounded by mountains. Winds will shift from northerly to westerly late next week, but should remain weak into Saturday with high pressure overhead. By midday Saturday winds may increase out of the west to 5-10 mph, but should remain suppressed greatly by Snowmass Mountain to the west. A weak disturbance may bring a few high clouds to the area Saturday night into Sunday; otherwise, expect mostly sunny skies into the weekend.

Wednesday: Sunny. High 45, Low 21 .
Thursday: Sunny. High 46, Low 20.

TWC: ** No Forecast Available. **

AW: ** No Forecast Available. **

NWS: ** No Forecast Available. **

WB: ** No Forecast Available. **

View Snowmass Lake From Maroon-Snowmass TH in a larger map

OTG Rating: >>6<<The Maroon Bells are heavily trafficked by hiking standards, primarily due to its close proximity to the tourist trap that is Aspen, CO. Thus, it can be tough to find true solitude. Maroon-Snowmass Trailhead is typically busy even during the week, but once one treks past Crater Lake the hiker density greatly decreases from about 30 hikers per mile to about 7 hikers per mile. Even so, the number of people camping at Snowmass Lake can be high even during the week.

Note: The ‘OTG Rating’ is based on a scale of 1 to 10; 10 being completely Off The Grid and 1 being within a major city or otherwise Grid Locked.

Introducing Off The Grid!

We often focus on major (or notable) cities here at Victoria Weather, in order to capture a wide variety of spectators. But what about those areas that are less notable, hidden from the eyes of many or otherwise off the grid. We will be trying something new here in The Weather Blog. Occasionally we will look off the beaten path to reach areas of the backwoods, National Parks and other popular (even unpopular) domestic and international destinations, where forecasts are often either hard to come by or nonexistent.

Weather forecasts Off The Grid (OTG) are typically doomed due to the lack of observational data and thus poor model data. This is often the case within mountainous or wilderness areas, where terrain features change drastically over small horizontal distances and observational data (weather stations) can be over 150 miles apart. With that being said, detailed forecasts, while often flawed due to the aforementioned conditions, are possible in areas Off The Grid with an understanding of how terrain and other geographical features affect the weather.

In our first edition of OTG we will travel to one of America’s most iconic National Parks; Yellowstone. Established in 1872 as Americas first National Park, it is home to the world’s largest geyser (Steamboat Geyser; hurling a boiling column of water over 30 stories tall) and the world’s largest volcanic caldera (Yellowstone Supervolcano, which measures about 34 miles by 45 miles).

Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone National Park

For this forecast we will focus on Yellowstone Lake, which sits at the center of the park at 7,732ft above sea level.Clear skies will be the name of the game over the next few days, as weak high pressure remains in place through Thursday. High pressure begins to retreat on Friday as a system pushes into the Pacific Northwest. This may cause a few high clouds to stream over the lake on Saturday; otherwise, dry conditions will be expected for much of Saturday as well. Light showers look to filter into the park Saturday evening as the system over the Pacific Northwest drifts into the Great Basin. By Sunday morning showers and perhaps a few thunderstorms are expected to envelop the lake and continue intermittently throughout the day.

Wednesday: Sunny. High 54, Low 23 .
Thursday: Sunny. High 56, Low 24.

TWC: Wednesday: Mostly Sunny. High 55, Low 21.
Thursday: Sunny. High 56, Low 22.

AW: Wednesday: Sunny. High 60, Low 16.
Thursday: Sunny. High 57, Low 17.

NWS: Wednesday: Sunny. High 57, Low 28.
Thursday: Sunny. High 58, Low 25.

WB: Wednesday: Sunny. High 53, Low 26.
Thursday: Sunny. High 54, Low 24.

OTG Rating (1-10): >>4<< While sitting miles from any major city, Yellowstone Lake’s northern and western fringes can be accessed via highway from any direction. With nearly 3,000,000 visitors a year, it can feel like city grid lock on the weekends.