Hailstorm in Tuolumne Meadows

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Weather in the mountains brings them alive.

When warm moist air blows in from the south, it’s thunderstorm time in the high Sierra. As the sun warms the slopes, they warm this moist air, which begins to rise and create convection cells. At a certain level, since air cools as it rises, it condenses. A cell with a strong updraft can create a cloud many thousands of feet high–high enough for the condensed moisture inside it to freeze and fall as hail instead of rain. https://mountainandspirit.wordpress.com/2014/08/05/sierra-clouds/

On August 1 I attended a concert by the singing group Oolation! in the Sierra Club’s historic Parsons Lodge, at the north edge of Tuolumne Meadows. The pounding of hail on the metal roof began gradually, then quickly rose to a continuous roar. We watched through the open windows and doorway as hailstones bounced among the grass. The lodge continued to roar as hail continued to gather, until the ground around the lodge was completely covered with white. Finally the hail and the roar faded away and the singers resumed their concert.

As we left the lodge for the trek back across the meadow to the Tioga Road, we saw an amazing sight. Above the green grass of the meadow, moisture had condensed in a silent layer of mist.

It was if Creation was happening all over again–flowing water of the river, freshly watered grass, nourishing mist and clean, fresh air all around.

Creation is happening all the time, and we belong to this awesome world in which it’s happening all around us!


About David McCoard

After earning my MS in geology I've done various things including managing the ski touring program at a small lodge in the Sierra. In 2010 I retired from Contra Costa College in California. I've always been fascinated by the mountains and nature and have spent countless days hiking, backpacking, climbing and skiing in the Sierra. The spiritual insights I've learned there have set the course for my life. Now I have time to share them and strike up a conversation.
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