Dry, hot California winter closes ski resorts, stalls wildflower blooms and revives drought fears

Paige St. John, Rong-Gong Lin II and Sarah Parvini, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Weather News

It was the holdout thought all over Truckee, from sidelined snowboarders to idle tourist shop owners. At Donner Lake Gift Shop, Karen Mertle said business was so slow, she and her husband Fred kept watch on the shop through an open door from their home behind their storefront. The shelves of tire chains were fully stocked, untouched. The lakefront was a strip of old-fashioned motels announcing Vacancy, Vacancy, Vacancy.

"I should close here," Mertle said, "and go to Donner Ranch for lunch."

"They're all hoping. Miracle March," said Reed Winter, 24, working behind the Formica-and-steel diner counter at Jax in Truckee. It has been a lousy winter for snowboarding and Winter does not expect it to get better. "Me, I don't know. I think I'm ready for the warm weather."

But there's a reason why it's called a March miracle -- it's rare. And given how delicate the burned areas of California are, a deluge would bring catastrophic mudflows.

"Be careful what you wish for," Patzert said. "We don't need another Montecito."

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(St. John reported from Truckee, Lin from San Francisco and Parvini from Los Angeles.)

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