Sierra Ski Slump

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One Sierra ski area has called it quits for the season while others struggle to keep lifts running and workers busy during the driest winter in nearly two decades.

Northern California's June Mountain, which averages 250 inches of snow annually, has a base of three to 18 inches. It conceded to nature January 28th, laying off most of its 175 employees.

It's much the same story some 150 miles north in the Lake Tahoe Basin, where workers' hours are being slashed as much as 80 percent to try to avoid layoffs.

Although other western ski areas benefited from storms late last year, most of the snow skipped over the Sierra on its way east, leaving the mountains along the California-Nevada line without their seasonal thick white caps.

The last time snow was so skimpy at Mount Rose Ski Tahoe resort
south of Reno was in 1990-91, which was rescued by a huge "Miracle
March" snowfall that resuscitated ski resorts but barely dented the drought that had begun three years earlier.

This year's snowpack up and down the Sierra compares with that
winter 17 years ago, averaging from 30 percent to 40 percent of normal for early February.