Union Democrat staff

The National Park Service announced Tioga Road will open for the season at noon today, marking the earliest opening since 1987.

The road over Tioga Pass in Yosemite National Park opened on the same day in 1987, another dry year. The service said the snowpack this winter was 30 percent of normal, explaining the early opening.

Snowpack conditions when it opened the same day in 1987 were 51 percent of normal. The road typically opens in mid-May to early-June.

Sonora, Ebbetts and Monitor passes, maintained by Caltrans, also opened early this season because of the dry conditions.

Yosemite visitors are advised that snow and icy conditions may still exist on hiking trails and at higher elevations. The service urged hikers venturing into the back-country to prepare for snowy conditions and possible treacherous stream crossings.

All campgrounds and commercial services along Tioga Road, including the gas station, store and village grill, remain closed with no anticipated opening date.

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