Lack of snow this season hits Sierra businesses

KYBURZ, Calif.

After a bountiful winter last season, people had high hopes for a repeat, or better, this season. But look around El Dorado County and other locations in Northern California, and what you'll see is mostly ice.

A rare winter wildfire is proof that this is not the typical winter in the Sierra. Crews battled a small blaze that should have been easy to get a handle on if there was snow instead of dry vegetation.

Across the Sierra Nevada, you wouldn't know it's Christmas. According to the National Weather Service, December 2011 is shaping up to be one of the driest Decembers in record dating back to 1849.

The Tahoe Basin is just 39 percent of snowpack to date.

People are still going to Mammoth Mountain, though the ski resort only received a foot and a half of snow this season. The Sierra ski resorts are surviving on man-made snow.

At Boreal ski resort, 32 million gallons of snow help keep things moving.

The lack of real snow may be deterring some tourists. The owner of a local inn has seen many guests cancel their holiday plans.

But it's all perspective. One family managed to find a patch of white where it normally doesn't snow in the Sierra -- it was ice though, not snow.

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