People have been allowed to return to their homes under a warning of possible evacuation again. TheeIC agrees with this, so people can gather valuables and keepsakes but people in Oroville down to Gridley should be evacuated when water inflows rise above 100k or ANY sign of trouble and others at the ready.
To what level will DWR crank up releases, before they allow water to go over the EMERGENCY spillway?? 125k? 150K? 175k? 200k?
Cranking it up too high endangers the whole dam and utilizing the faulty emergency spillway may wipe out Oroville with the feared 30′ wall of water”. This crisis is in week #2 of a many week ordeal!
Sadly, the Daily Mail is providing more comprehensive coverage than the California papers.
Our earlier questions remain unanswered:
3 main concerns:
1 – The maximum recorded inflow was 266k cubic feet per second. Just last week the Lake was taking in 165k. The levees downstream were upgraded to withstand 180k. There is not much margin for error. Four more storms are lined up this week. Major flooding will likely occur.
2 – DWR says worst case scenario is that ONLY the earthen emergency spillway will collapse, releasing a 30′ wall of water that will cause untold damage. This is likely to occur soon.
3 – Longer term they say the integrity of the dam is not in question due to the lip of the dam being 30′ above the emergency spillway. There are two problems with this assertion, which are not being revealed.
A – The unprotected emergency spillway will fail soon and will gradually be eaten away by the cascading water. This is why they panicked and evacuated 188,ooo people. There are 23,000 National Guard ready to be deployed. The other cause of real concern is the Sacramento regional levee system. If the Dam fails, the 30 ft. wall of water could cause significant strain on many of the levees in and around Sacramento. Feather River Basin flows down into Sacramento River. The 1916 Sacramento Weir and the Yolo bypass are already maxed out with water, with flooding occurring south of Sacramento.
B – The damaged main spillway is being eaten up by the massive 100k releases. The spillway couldn’t take the 2 hour test Thursday without considerable damage. If the damage climbs up to the lip, the dam may collapse. The original concrete coffer dam is only 128′ high.
In conclusion, it appears that the best case scenario is a flood that is minimized to Yuba, Butte, and Sutter Counties. It is likely there will be a major event. Unfortunately, it appears that even more than a 30′ wall of water may be foreseeable. Finally, there is a distinct possibility that the majority of the 1 trillion gallons of water will inundate the region, including downtown Sacramento and Interstates 80 and 5.
From The Daily Mail:
California Governor Jerry Brown’s request for federal emergency funding to help the dire situation at the Oroville Dam was approved by President Trump‘s administration on Tuesday evening.
The governor expressed hope yesterday that the new administration would act quickly and favorably towards the state’s increasingly dire need for funding as the tallest dam in the United States threatened to crumble.
Some, however, were not optimistic about Trump’s response to the state he’s previously called ‘out-of-control’ as animosity mounted between the two parties.
Hundreds of thousands of California evacuees were told they could go home after engineers patched up the emergency spillway at Oroville Dam on Tuesday – but they can’t get comfortable just yet.
Engineers say they have been able to beef up a crumbling emergency barrier at the top of the dam which threatened to give way over the weekend and sparked the sudden evacuation.
Supported now by boulders and rocks, it will hold if the water level in Lake Oroville rises to capacity again but that too is unlikely, the Department of Water Resources claims, given the quick rate at which the water is currently being drained.
Despite their confidence that the emergency spillway will hold and the lake won’t fill its 901ft capacity, police are still issuing an evacuation warning.
Though less severe than the evacuation order issued in a panic on Sunday, it means residents of Butte, Yuba and Sutter Counties could be told to abandon their homes again if the situation becomes more precarious.
‘This warning allows people to return to return to their homes and resume their businesses but we’re telling them that they have to be vigilant. There is the prospect we could issue another order if the circumstances change,’ Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said at a press conference on Tuesday.
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An evacuation order was lifted for the towns surrounding the Oroville Dam on Tuesday as officials claimed they had done enough to repair its emergency spillway (above being patched up with boulders)
Diggers filled with rocks are offloading them hurriedly at the top of the dam in anticipation of more rain which will increase water levels in the lake behind it later in the week
The problems: The crisis was sparked when authorities stopped allowing water down the main spillway to investigate a large hole caused by erosion (left), last week sending all of the surplus lake water to an emergency spillway (right picture, top left) which wasn’t equipped to handle it. Now, water is gushing down the eroded spillway again before storms bring more rain to the reservoir above it
Waterflow has resumed on the main spillway and is draining water from the lake behind it at a rate of one foot every three to four hours
Officials including Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea announced on Tuesday that the evacuation order had been lifted
Some 200,000 residents fled on Sunday and took refuge in make-shift shelters when authorities were finally forced to issue an emergency evacuation order after days of claiming the situation was safe.
The evacuees have since told of their hurried escape, describing the scene of entire communities fleeing in their packed up cars as ‘pure chaos’.
The exodus was triggered amid fears the emergency spillway at Oroville Dam was about to give way to the full lake and send a 30ft wall of water cascading down into towns at its foot.
But after spending two days frantically draining the reservoir by allowing water down the main spillway (which was put temporarily out of use to investigate erosion last week), officials say they have now reduced the level enough.
The water level is currently at 889ft in the lake. Agencies are aiming to lower it to 850ft, a goal they first said they hoped to achieve by Wednesday when more rain is forecast.
Now they say this doesn’t need to be done until Saturday and that they are on track to reach their goal.
‘The peak inflows are below the 100,000 cubic ft outflow that we have right now so what that means is we’ll see a small increase in water elevation but with the existing releases we should get down to 850ft sometime late Saturday, Sunday,’ Bill Croyle, director of the California Department of Water Resources said.
Helicopters fly rocks to the top of the dam for engineers to continue patching up the eroded emergency spillway (left) on Tuesday as water continues to cascade down the primary spillway right)
Helicopters fly over the emergency spillway at Oroville Dam on Tuesday as millions of gallons of water rushes down its main chute
Engineers are using rocks to patch up the ruined spillway which nearly gave way entirely on Saturday as the lake reached its maximum capacity
Curious onlookers go to the Feather River as it gushes through the town of Oroville as more water is released from the reservoir above the dam
Engineers take rocks across to the site of the damaged emergency spillway to build it back up before water levels in the lake rise again, threatening to overpower it entirely
As for the eroded emergency spillway, authorities say it has been secured by 125 crews working round the clock to fix it.
They have been bringing 30 tonnes of rock to the near-collapsed barrier since Saturday on lorries and helicopters, an effort they say has made it strong enough to resist the reservoir.
The work will continue over the coming days to ensure that the wall is sufficiently lined, officials said.
The emergency situation had been in developing for a week and began last Tuesday when officials were forced to acknowledge a gaping hole in the main spillway.
They halted water flow on the spillway to investigate the damage but said at the time there was no immediate threat to the public.
The emergency spillway, which had never before been used, was then put to work but soon buckled under the pressure. Because it was backed only by land and soil, authorities were forced to admit that it would likely fail and evacuated the area suddenly on Sunday afternoon.
The sudden order after days of of public assurances that the situation was safe created pandemonium in the town of Oroville and others surrounding the dam.
Some already had their bags packed and hit the road immediately but others were left to scramble after being told for days that they were in no danger.
When water began flowing through the emergency spillway, it buckled under the pressure and nearly gave way entirely. Above the scene on Sunday as water flowed through the emergency spillway
Workers are trying to repair the emergency spillway so that it may be used again if the main spillway erosion worsens which they now say they have achieved
Department of Water Resources engineers are using the rocks to try to beef back up the emergency spillway before the lake overflows again. They are bringing in 30 tonnes of rocks per hour to strengthen the emergency spillway
Officials survey the gushing water at the foot of the dam from a lookout point. Engineers are working round the clock to drain enough water from the lake before it overflows
A TIMELINE OF THE OROVILLE DAM DISASTER
Tuesday, February 7: Authorities halt flow on the main spillway to investigate erosion
Wednesday, February 8: They reveal plans to release water over damaged spillway to test its function
Thursday, February 9: Test release of water adds to main spillway damage as expected but they plan to allow more through after heavy rain caused lake to rise
Friday, February 10: More water is allowed to flow down the damaged spillway to avoid using the fragile emergency spillway
Saturday, February 11: First flow of water is allowed to pass down emergency spillway and authorities say erosion on main spillway has slowed. They repeat there is no risk to the public
Noon, Sunday, February 12 : At a press conference, officials say the dam and its spillways are stable and that the emergency dam will hold steady
4.45pm, Sunday, February 12: The Department for Water Resources tweets an emergency evacuation order warning the emergency spillway is about to fail
Monday, February 13: Officials cannot say when evacuees will be able to return as they frantically work to repair the damaged main spillway
Tuesday afternoon: Evacuation order is lifted but warning stays in place as authorities say emergency spillway is stable
The chaos was described as a ‘textbook example’ of why the country needs to invest in infrastructure by White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer on Tuesday as he said President Trump was keeping a ‘close eye’ on the situation.
He has not yet released $162.3 million in disaster assistance that California has requested.
Evacuation centers have been set up at a fairgrounds in Chico, California, about 20 miles northwest of Oroville, but major highways leading south out of the area were jammed as residents fled the flood zone.
Javier Santiago, 42, fled with his wife, two children and several friends to the Oroville Dam Visitors Center in a public park above the dam and the danger zone.
With blankets, pillows and a little food, Santiago said: ‘We’re going to sleep in the car.’
The sudden evacuation panicked residents, who scrambled to get their belongings into cars and then grew angry as they sat in bumper-to-bumper traffic hours after the evacuation order was given.
Raj Gill, managing a Shell station where anxious motorists got gas and snacks, said his boss told him to close the station and flee himself. But he stayed open to feed a steady line of customers.
‘You can’t even move,’ he said. ‘I’m trying to get out of here too. I’m worried about the flooding. I’ve seen the pictures – that’s a lot of water.’
A Red Cross spokeswoman said more than 500 people showed up at an evacuation center in Chico, California.
The shelter ran out of blankets and cots, and a tractor-trailer with 1,000 more cots was stuck in the gridlock of traffic fleeing the potential flooding Sunday night, Red Cross shelter manager Pam Deditch said.
On Monday it was revealed officials were warned about the main spillway’s fragility 12 years ago but ignored concerns.
Environmental groups predicted that the main spillway could erode under heavy rainfall and flagged their fears to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in 2003, requesting updates and improvements to the dam spillways.
Evacuation: Almost 200,000 people were ordered to leave the towns downhill of the Oroville Dam on Sunday as heavy rainfall left it at risk of bursting but the order was lifted on Tuesday afternoon
The Feather River which is at the foot of the dam flowed with force on Tuesday as it resisted floods
Water continued to swamp towns at the foot of the dam including Oroville (above) which thousands of residents fled on Sunday. Officials say they can go home now but should remain alert to any changes
Public toilets at Riverbend Park in Oroville were swamped on Tuesday while engineers battled to fix the problem at its source – the dam towering 700ft above the town
Riverbend Park in Oroville where thousands fled in fear that an emergency spillway at its dam may give way and swamp the town
The town was deserted after an emergency evacuation was issued on Sunday giving residents an hour to flee before the emergency spillway gave way
The effect of the rising waters in the lake were seen in towns some 50 miles away including Marysville (above) where an entire graveyard was flooded
The improvements were never made because water agencies which would have had to pay for them deemed them unnecessary. Infrastructure improvements earmarked across the state in January this year didn’t include the Oroville Dam either.
The $100billion list was made by the governor’s office and included plans for the Folsom Dam but made no mention of Oroville.
On October 17, 2006, three environmental groups – the Friends of the River, the Sierra Club and the South Yuba Citizens League – filed a motion with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) urging the government to fully reinforce the dam’s emergency spillways with concrete, according to The Mercury News.
In the face of heavy rainfall, the groups said, the earthen spillways might begin to collapse and erode, leading to the river downhill being inundated with water – as happened over the weekend.
Worse, they said, there was a serious risk of ‘loss of crest control’ – that is, the lip of the dam might fail, resulting in a massive and dangerous surge that would ’cause damages and threaten lives in the protected floodplain downstream’.
Four-year-old Emma Neurohr or Oroville is one of nearly 200,000 people who have been evacuated in fear the crumbling emergency spillway may give way. She is taking shelter at the Salvation Army relief center in Placer County Fairgrounds
Displaced children pick up supplies of soap and toys at the center in Placer County. They have been told they can go home but that the situation may change
Female inmates from Roseville Jail help deliver donated food and blankets to the Salvation Army relief center at Placer County Fairgrounds
Shelter:Steve Allen and Alicia Castro are at Placer County Fairgrounds (above) before the evacuation order was lifted
Among evacuees is Katherine Boeger Knight and her daughter Amethyst, five, who entertained themselves at a refuge in Chico, California, with cards on Monday night
Run: Kenneth Huskey, 70, packed up his home to flee Oroville along with other residents. He fled to Silver Dollar Fairgrounds
Sharing: At the Gurdwara Sahib Sikh Temple in Sacramento, Amarjit Singh dishes out french fries to the Lyon family who were forced to flee their home in Yuba City
Waiting it out: Evacuees were at first told they could remain in shelters for weeks but the evacuation order was lifted suddenly on Tuesday
A woman entertains her baby in Bangor Community Hall as they wait with other evacuees for news about their homes
Sharon Dalton completes a crossword under a table in Bangor Community Hall in Bangor, California, on Monday
Residents described how they fled in ‘pure chaos’ after being told by water agencies they had just an hour before the emergency spillway gave way on Sunday
In Chico, California, brothers Jesus and Omar Rojo drop off their pregnant ewes at an animal evacuation center on Monday
The California Department of Water Resources issued an evacuation order on Sunday after claiming for days that the situation was safe
The California Guard sent 25 soldiers to help Butte County Sheriff’s Office where thousands have been displaced
THE STORMS THREATENING TO OVERFLOW THE LAKE
A pair of storms which will bring more rain to the area this week is piling more pressure on to emergency workers to drain the lake.
The first storm will begin on Wednesday afternoon and could see between 1 and 3 inches of rain. The worry is they will pour more water from surrounding rivers into the lake, causing it to rise again past its 901ft maximum capacity.
National Weather Service meteorologist Jason Clapp told DailyMail.com on Tuesday morning of the risks.
‘We could get another one to three inches, in the mountains. It’s not a huge amount but the grounds are already saturated which means it’ll all come down in to the lake.’
Snow levels are however dropping which is good news for the lake. It means the rain may in fact come down as snow closer to the danger zone, giving workers more time to drain the water before it melts and makes its way downstream.
Their biggest worry is a ‘really big, strong’ storm set to hit on Friday which could increase the total rainfall for the week to eight inches.
‘If they haven’t found something really good to do by Friday, things are going to go downhill further. That could be a really strong storm, not just lots of rain but lots of wind, too,’ National Weather Service meteorologist Brandt Maxwell told USA Today.
But the Department of Water Resources, and the agencies in the line to foot the bill – told the FERC that the spillways could handle 350,000 cubic feet of water per second and there was no danger.
‘The emergency spillway meets FERC’s engineering guidelines for an emergency spillway,’ wrote John Onderdonk, a senior civil engineer with FERC, in 2006. ‘The guidelines specify that during a rare flood event, it is acceptable for the emergency spillway to sustain significant damage.’
Despite that, the weekend saw the earthen spillways being eroded with flows of just 6,000-12,000 cubic feet per second – less than five percent of FERC’s supposed safe rate.
State officials said in 2008 no ‘significant concerns’ about the spillway’s integrity had been raised in any government or independent review.
This is the potential worst case scenario for what could happen if the waters are not controlled and the dam breaks. It would take about 12 hours for the water to reach Yuba City more than 40 miles away, following the path of the Feather River
Also on Monday, it emerged that California Governor Jerry Brown had overlooked the Oroville Dam in the $100 billion list of ‘key’ infrastructure projects filed this month.
The list, generated at the request of the National Governor’s Association after Donald Trump called for $1 trillion of infrastructure investment, is a ‘wish list’ of projects for Brown, CNBC reported.
But while the list mentions the Folsom Dam, some 60 miles south of Oroville, as well as flood control in Sacramento, 66 miles away, there is no mention of Oroville Dam itself.
Instead, most of the suggested upgrades in the three-page document are related to transportation, such as highways, bridges and railroads.
Projects to reduce flooding risk in Marysville, 30 miles south of Orosville and 50 miles from the dam, are mentioned, as are other levee and dam plans.
All are placed below a proposed high-speed rail track between Los Angeles and San Francisco on the list – although the governor’s office says that the order of the list does not represent how important the projects are.
It added that the list was ‘an initial list of projects. By no means does it represent all of the state’s priorities.’
Brown later said that he was not aware of the 2006 report or the concerns raised about the dam.
Workers have sufficiently repaired the damage on the eroded emergency spillway so that it will hold if the main spillway needs to be used. They have been bringing rocks to work sites on the dam in helicopters
Race against time: Engineers frantically brought rocks to the site to beef back up the emergency spillway which is now strong enough to be used
Engineers brought rocks to the top of the dam on Monday to lower patch up the damaged earthy emergency spillway
State superintendent of public instruction Tom Torlakson told administrators in the district that they could apply for aid for the periods that they were shut down.
He said schools should not suffer ‘for putting the safety of our students first based on these unprecedented flood dangers.’
In Butte County, where the Oroville Dam is located, 13 of 15 school districts were closed. The county has about 31,000 total public school students.
California appears to have been particularly caught off guard by the recent rainfall, which has seen flooding in the north of the state, near where Oroville is located, and heavy storms in the south.
That’s because it has been in a state of so-called ‘permanent drought’ for five years – a drought that only ended with rain and snowfall in December.
That rainfall continues to hit the state in waves – and so concerns remain high about the short-term prospects for the dam.
Despite the wet weather, however, the state has extended its water bands until May, although those bans continue to vary from area to area.
Water was allowed to flow back down the main waterway on Friday, February 10 (above) as levels in the reservoir continued to rise. By Sunday, it began eroding the emergency spillway the left of the dam and threatened to hop over the dam entirely and pour down into the towns at its foot
Water flow on the main spillway was halted last week as agencies investigated a huge hole which had formed (above)
The hole was caused my years of erosion which some environmental groups predicted in 2003. The flow of water on the main spillway was halted last week for agencies to investigate it
Chico Councilman Andrew Coolidge says the seven shelters he visited are packed with residents who describe similar terror on jam-packed roads to safety. While most fled, some had no choice but to remain behind.
The chief executive of the Oroville Hospital says it is operating normally but that 100 patients have been moved to the hospital’s second floor. Hospital CEO Robert Wentz says the hospital took the step Monday morning ‘out of an abundance of caution.’
The hospital is outside the flood zone below the dam on Oroville Lake and sits on a hill. Wentz says evacuating acutely ill people is difficult so it is usually better for them to stay where they are.
He says patients will not go back to the hospital’s first floor until authorities tell the hospital it is safe to do so.
Overnight, state and local officials said the immediate danger had passed with water no longer flowing over the eroded spillway but they cautioned that the situation remained unpredictable.
‘Once you have damage to a structure like that it’s catastrophic,’ acting Water Resources director Bill Croyle told reporters. But he stressed ‘the integrity of the dam is not impacted’ by the damaged spillway.
A California Highway Patrol spokesman said two planes would fly on Monday to help with traffic control and possible search-and-rescue missions.
At least 250 California law enforcement officers were posted near the dam and along evacuation routes to manage the exodus and ensure evacuated towns don’t become targets for looting or other criminal activity.
By surprise: Rainfall caught much of the state off guard at the start of the month after months of drought conditions (illustrated in red, left). A February 7 diagram (right) shows how the drought eased, with red alert pathces turning yellow
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