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Sierra Economy Anxiously Awaiting Incoming Storms

TRUCKEE -- People who rely on snow for work and play are getting excited about this week's Tahoe area forecast, which includes natural snow.

Janet Tuttle is co-owner of Donner Ski Ranch. The resort just over the mountain from Boreal doesn't have snowmaking machines. At an elevation near 7,000 feet, it shouldn't have to.

It certainly didn't need them one year ago.

“Last season was way too much of a good thing," Tuttle said.

Walls of snow covered the area last year and it was hard for plows to stay ahead of it all. So far this season, nature has failed to deliver.

"A lot of hiking going on, and I saw people out fishing down on Donner Lake,” Tuttle said.

When everything is up and running Donner Ski Ranch employs 100 people.

"We're tying to keep people employed as best we can," Tuttle said.

Inside the resort's Old 40 Bar and Grill the regulars were practically counting the days, and the beers, to Thursday when a true winter storm is forecast to arrive.

Brad Moran drives a snow plow in Soda Springs. Homeowners pay for the service up front at the beginning of the season. Good thing for Moran, because he says he's only worked about ten hours this whole season.

“But I would much rather be out there plowing snow for 24 hours straight and have it than not at all,” Moran said.

At the resorts that are open the machine-made stuff is literally wearing thin, but soon businesses, residents and tourists will get to enjoy the snowfall.

“It is our hope to be open again on Friday and certainly through the weekend -- and hopefully for the rest of the season,” Tuttle said.