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The state Department of Water Resources conducted the first snow survey of the year today in the Sierra Nevada, and the news isn’t good.

Snowfall levels are at 60 percent of normal for this time of year, the state says.

The snow that falls in the Sierras is of vital importance to San Diego County in the coming year. It will help determine the amount of snowmelt that filters into the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, a major source of San Diego’s water supply.

A federal judge last year cut the amount of water that can be exported from the delta, a measure designed to help protect the Delta smelt, a tiny endangered fish. The lower the snowfall levels are, the more severe those cuts will be.

Last year’s snowfall levels were among the lowest on record. The state finished the winter with just 30 percent of the snow pack it typically does.

But state officials say they are hopeful that the storms headed through the state this weekend will help buffet this winter’s low early totals.

“The pending storms should provide the State with a much needed helping of snow,” Art Hinojosa, chief of the Department of Water Resources hydrology branch, said in a news release. “We hope to get close to the January average precipitation for the Northern Sierra over the next week.”

The next survey will happen in a month.

ROB DAVIS

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