My flatmate Jonathan has just returned from travels around California including into Yosemite National Park. I had previously travelled in the USA in the summer of 2011 with his ‘big sis’ Simone so we were comparing experiences. I was shocked to hear that when he visited Yosemite that it was very dry and it is reported to have been in a fifteen month drought. I’ve done a bit of reading into it and it is reported to be the third consecutive dry year in the park and this year has been especially dry with only about 30% of the normal snow on the mountains that there would be on a ‘normal year’. A lot of people travel to see the waterfalls in the park with Yosemite falls being the biggest waterfall in North America. When we visited in July 2011 the falls were powerful and fast flowing and the park was green with, what seemed to be, water in abundance. Interestingly, it is reported that generally the falls are much smaller on an average year during the month of July, but 2011 was an exception to the rule where waterfalls peaked a month later than usual, which meant the waterfalls we saw on our visit were huge…but not the norm.
When Jonathan was there in mid July 2014, only one waterfall was still flowing and the park was very dry. This has impacts on the area such as increased rates of forest fires and the bears not going into hibernation due to continuing to forage for food in the dry woods. The third largest forest fire in California to be recorded to date happened in the summer of 2013 in and was named the Rim fire. In three months, the fire burned 77,000 acres within Yosemite and 257,000 acres in total. It will be interesting to see how the continuation of extreme heat and diminishing snowpack’s in Yosemite effect the park’s ecosystem in the future. (So, if any reader is there in summer 2015 would be good to get an update)
(Photographs show Lydia’s visit in July 2011)