Yosemite waterfalls peaking early this year

Written by Mike Morris, The Union Democrat May 09, 2014 12:30 pm

A well below-average snowpack is causing Yosemite National Park’s world famous waterfalls to peak early this year.

Typically, the falls become fullest around Memorial Day, but this year they peaked in early May, said park spokeswoman Kari Cobb. 

“They’re still at peak right now,” Cobb said Thursday. “The entire month of May will be a good time to view waterfalls. They will start to look a little less full by June, and will likely dry-up by mid-to-late July.”

Yosemite Falls, for example, typically flows until at least mid-August, she said. 

Most of the waterfalls in the park are fed by snowmelt, and Yosemite Falls — the tallest waterfall in North America — is strictly snowmelt fed, Cobb said.

“The snowmelt determines how long waterfalls last and how big they get,” she said. 

The California Department of Water Resources’ final snow survey of the year May 1 found more bare ground than snow as the state faces another long summer following a near-record dry winter. Manual and electronic readings recorded the statewide snowpack water content at 18 percent of average for the date. 

Regardless of whether waterfalls are flowing or not, the park remains beautiful, Cobb said.

“Even without water, the cliffs are worth seeing,” she said.