The snow fall in the Sierra Nevada is looking better than it did last year — a potentially positive sign that water exports to Southern California won’t be cut as severely as they would in a dry year.

A federal judge has ordered cutbacks in the amount of water pumped out of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta this year, restrictions that will be (in part) influenced by the amount of snow melt flowing in.

The results of state surveys conducted today show that the Sierras have more than 111 percent of their average snowfall for this time of year, the result of a snowy January.

In a news release, Arthur Hinojosa, chief of the state Department of Water Resources’ hydrology branch, called the January snowfall “an excellent shot in the arm to the state’s water supply.”

The full brunt of water restrictions won’t be known until late April or early May and will depend on when the Delta smelt, a tiny endangered fish, are found near the pumps that feed water into an aqueduct that runs to Southern California.

“Right now, things are looking good,” said John Liarakos, spokesman for the San Diego County Water Authority, “and hopefully we continue to get lots of snow and lots of rain.”

ROB DAVIS

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