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California: Oroville Dam emergency, evacuations underway

UPDATE #2: While the imminent threat is lower, the evacuations are still underway and now include 188,000 people.

See what alarmed dam management: (Shots from the 7SanDiego News footage.)

Oroville Dam erosion. Road break up.

Oroville Dam erosion on the emergency spillway. The road washed away.

Oroville Dam Spillway erosion

Oroville Dam Spillway erosion (the arrow points at the people inspecting one part of the erosion which was headed for the spillway wall.

Oroville Dam, erosion. Spillway. Close up.

A close up of the erosion looking down from over the spillway wall. We can see just how much ground disappeared on the weekend.

UPDATE #1: For the moment the dire threat is lessening as water has been successfully released, but the evacuation order remains in place, and around 130,000 people are or have been moved. They are even evacuating some baby fish.

LATEST NEWS: CA – DWR@CA_DWR

Flows over the auxiliary spillway have ceased. 100,000 cfs continue down the main spillway. @ButteSheriff

_________________________________

A remarkable situation in California is taking place where tens of thousands of people and animals are being shifted away from Oroville Dam as a precaution.

“EVACUATION ORDER. Use of the auxiliary spillway has lead to severe erosion that could lead to a failure of the structure. “

RAW: Chopper Footage Of Damaged Auxiliary Spillway In Danger Of Failing


See also Twitter news

KCRA NEWs 

OROVILLE, Calif. (KCRA) —

At least 130,000 people living along the Feather River Basin in Butte, Yuba and Sutter counties have been ordered to evacuate due to severe erosion on the emergency spillway at Lake Oroville.

Water began flowing over the emergency spillway at the Oroville Dam in Northern California on Saturday for the first time in its nearly 50-year history after heavy rainfall. Officials earlier Sunday stressed the dam itself was structurally sound and said there was no threat to the public.

Unexpected erosion chewed through the main spillway during heavy rain earlier this week, sending chunks of concrete flying and creating a 200-foot-long, 30-foot-deep hole that continues growing. Engineers don’t know what caused the cave-in, but Chris Orrock, a DWR spokesperson, said it appears the dam’s main spillway has stopped crumbling even though it’s being used for water releases.

Oroville Dam, overhead view.

Oroville Dam, California.

Oroville Dam, California.

News at Twitter/Oroville

Dam levels at CDEC  Elevation dropped slightly from 902ft to 901ft  899ft. Spillway overflowing.

h/t David, Pat, AndyG

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.1/10 (38 votes cast)
California: Oroville Dam emergency, evacuations underway, 9.1 out of 10 based on 38 ratings

Tiny Url for this post: http://tinyurl.com/gsfncyo

116 comments to California: Oroville Dam emergency, evacuations underway

  • #
    Bulldust

    Oh noes.. this will increase sea level rise!

    1411

    • #

      Only if the people don’t eat enough chocolate to offset the rise in sea levels.

      :-)

      100

    • #
      turnedounice

      But doncha realise, in the aftermath of a large El Nino atmospheric [H2O] should rise.

      The high rainfall in CA shows that there is a natural compensatory mechanism.

      Will the IPCC please explain why this is happening

      20

    • #
      Bulldust

      Ahh that’s what I get for forgetting to virtue signal before the sea rise comment. Up and down-thumbers are parochial numpties. No doubt the red thumbers think I am some sort of psychopath. People seriously need to grow up.

      How about putting it this way … if California was wasting less billions on ineffectual green schemes they might have some money to ensure that critical infrastructure like this was being properly monitored and maintained.

      62

    • #
      Duster

      There was a question on a news conference, where the reporter was apparently worried about how much water was being released “into the Pacific.” No joke. Of course, living here, in NorCal in fact, we do pay attention. Oroville Dam is the highest earthen dam in the US – 770 feet. There are millions of acre feet behind it, so a threat of failure is nothing to ignore. Oddly, though it did make it into the news, no one seemes to notice that Tyler Island was also ordered evacuated because of imminent potential foe the levee keeping the Pacific out. Tyler Island is in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and most of it lies below sea level.

      00

  • #
    Dennis

    I sincerely trust that all people in danger can be evacuated safely.

    240

  • #
    OriginalSteve

    Flannery said “the dams will never fill due to global warming” or words to that effect….

    Oh the irony – CA is a greenie basket case…and now it has *too* much water….

    Its like the climate change academic numpties from the Oz university getting trapped in the ice….

    272

  • #
    Ozwitch

    The main spillway is where the original hole developed which has led to destruction of the chute but not any danger to the dam wall itself. The scary bit is the top raw footage in the first minute, where you can see a flow starting to erode the left edge of the emergency spillway. If that undercuts the side of the spillway the danger is that the dam could breach there. They are lowering the water in a hurry because the more that breach erodes the edge of the emergency spillway, the lower the ability of the dam to prevent overtopping, and more rain is expected.

    81

    • #
      AndyG55

      Shoulda read your comment first, :-) see #14

      30

    • #
      AndyG55

      It does look like most of the flow from the emergency spillway is now down to rock, so not much more erosion of that area.

      30

    • #
      OriginalSteve

      If only the QLD had been as smart with the Wivenhoe dam…..

      30

    • #
      Environment Skeptic

      What is impenetrable for me to understand is how can reinforced concrete blow out with water flowing over the top of it?? The steel in the concrete should be like a skeleton mesh holding the concrete together.

      I have worked in the commercial building industry for over 15 years and cannot penetrate how it is possible for a hole to blow out in the main spillway.

      What??….did they use footpath concrete and forget to put steel in it?? Ultra super mega fully mind boggling.

      Seriously will not be able to sleep tonight trying to figure out how structural concrete with steel in it can blow out with water flowing over the top of it. It massively makes no sense.

      00

      • #
        Environment Skeptic

        Now that the hole has miraculously appeared in the main spillway, it is different and i could easily understand that the water will get under it and the entire thing will just lift off and slide down the hill. IMO If the main spillway is used again. That will happen quite suddenly.

        Has anyone heard something similar?

        00

      • #
        ralfellis

        .
        [how concrete blows out]. Venturi effect. The water below the chute is static, while the water above is flowing at a great rate, reducing the pressure. It is the same differential flow that lifts a B747 into the air – 450 tonnes of metal hanging on a very small differential airflow.

        Ralph

        20

        • #
          AndyG55

          Well done, Ralph. :-)

          I does look like there was some soft ground underneath. This could have cause a slight buckle in the spillway, which would massively increase the pressures, also causing vibrations that not many concretes could take for any length of time.

          10

          • #
            Environment Skeptic

            Yes, i could go with something like that.

            It is clear it could not have been blown in and the force would have to have been a lifting force as though the slab was lifted off the ground.

            Now that the hole is there i have no trouble imagining the flow of water will get under the slab and lift it off as if it were paper.

            00

            • #
              AndyG55

              Spillways of that size should be mass concrete a few feet thick overlaid with pinned hi-strength, polished and heavily re-enforced structural concrete.

              Looks very much like a “low-cost” job to me.

              10

              • #
                Environment Skeptic

                Hard to believe it lifted out via suction, but then again a vacuum cleaner can lift a bowling ball if enough surface area is applied to it. “Give me a vacuum and i will move the world’ Archimedes once said while sitting in his bath, his preferred meditation area.

                The concrete would need to be at least 60MPa and above i imagine, and there would need to be a lot of overlap when new sections of steel are tied into existing ones at least two meters overlap i imagine.

                What i want to see is close ups of the remaining concrete around the holes to see the steel reinforcement that is in the concrete. There should be steel showing sticking out of the concrete around the hole.

                It is still is mind boggling that the concrete lifted. I was thinking more in terms of water getting under the slab and blistering it upwards earlier or maybe a combination of both. I honestly thought it would be more likely that a meteorite hit the main spillway at some point.

                00

              • #
                AndyG55

                A slight vibration from an underlying cavity would make mincemeat of the concrete pretty quickly.

                Everybody underestimates the power of rapidly moving water, especially turbulence.

                00

  • #
    Phillip Bratby

    That sure is a massive permanent drought.

    170

  • #
    john karajas

    California drought, which was predicted by the Greenies to be the new normal, followed by drought-busting rain/snowfall. Similarities with Queensland Wivenhoe Dam debacle of a few years back perhaps?

    181

    • #
      tom0mason

      Californian drought should be normal. If nature had it’s way most of the State would be a desert.

      It is only through human intervention with diverting watercourses, piping water from the North, and making large reservoirs, or man-made lakes, that’s thirty-six reservoirs in total trying to contain over 200,000 acre feet (0.25 km3) of water(at maximum capacity.)

      I’m sure Californians are glad of this very short period of unusually high precipitation due to natural weather variation, and probably hope for more. Or they would do if only the inspections and maintenance was carried out correctly and in a timely manner on the dams and spillways.

      100

      • #
        Lionell Griffith

        Since California was in a drought situation that happens every decade or so, the man made lakes were almost dry. Thus no risk and no need to inspect and repair anything associated with water storage and delivery.

        After all, it was never going to rain again and the money had to be spent saving [whatever non productive thing they can think of]. Such things the people who donate to the party in power, the so called public service unions, the black hole called public education, and the high speed rail from no where to no where.

        The rains came, as they always do, and exposed a total lack of preparation. There is no money to rebuild so there will be new temporary (aka permanent) taxes to recover from the “emergency”. The lake will be drained to save some trash fish and the agriculture of the central valley will continued to be starved of water. The central valley that once produced a significant fraction of the world’s produce. Now dry fields almost out number green fields.

        Their plan is working. The golden state has turned into the fools gold state soon to be turned into dust. We could give it back to the Indians but I don’t think they want it.

        My long range plan to leave California and move back east looks like it is going to happen this week. Any sadness I have is for what was and could have been rather than what is and will likely be.

        90

        • #

          Speaking of gold; that spillway breach may have loosened up some alluvial stuff.

          Wonder why it’s called “Oroville”?

          30

        • #
          Roy Hogue

          …and the high speed rail from no where to no where.

          Oh come now, Lionell. You shouldn’t be so critical of a necessary high speed rail line. There are hundreds of people in Sacramento excited no end that they can finally go nowhere at 200 miles per hour powered by electricity instead of 75 or 80 in their fossil fuel powered cars. ;-)

          20

          • #
            Roy Hogue

            Maybe half or more of the state will also be excited about going nowhere. After all, we’ve been going nowhere for a long time as far as productive activity. So why stop now? :-(

            20

      • #
        tom0mason

        The locals are unset at the lack of action before the spillway had problems …
        http://www.chicoer.com/opinion/20170211/editorial-oroville-dam-crisis-a-failure-on-many-levels

        10

        • #
          Environment Skeptic

          There should be an inquiry right now into how a reinforced concrete main spillway had a hole blown through it when it should be made of concrete with tons of steel like a fabric mesh structure to hold it together.

          That is where the biggest mystery is. reinforced concrete being torn apart by water that is flowing over the top of it does not make sense. If it was water falling onto to it from above at great height even then ‘no’, or if it had been struck by a few meteors from outer space a few times over a period it would make sense. But not water exerting pressure sideways (Glancing over it) which is not a direct impact. No way!! That is just bollocks…

          Does anyone agree??

          00

          • #
            Environment Skeptic

            Fair enough if the main spillway was made of asphalt and was painted to look like reinforced concrete. Then i can understand how it blew out.

            A good close up photograph is needed and hope to find one so i can sleep tonight..

            00

          • #
            Greg Cavanagh

            “reinforced concrete being torn apart by water that is flowing over the top of it does not make sense.”

            I can answer this one. Friction.

            We put in thrust blocks on water mains at every bend. Because the pressure of the water turning the corner will force the joint apart.

            Stormwater pipes on steep grades have thrust blocks on every second joint.

            Water flowing over cement as fast as it was on the dam spillway has a tremendous friction pull on that cement. It will suck the blocks out from the spillway itself.

            00

      • #
        Environment Skeptic

        As long as there are no nuclear power plants below things should be fine.

        “inspections and maintenance was carried out correctly”….

        Maybe they can get some beavers to help??

        00

        • #
          Environment Skeptic

          From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Calhoun_Nuclear_Generating_Station

          “2011 flood and cold shutdown
          See also: 2011 Missouri River Floods
          Fort Calhoun plant on June 16, 2011 during the 2011 Missouri River Floods; vital buildings were protected using water-filled perimeter “flood berms”

          On June 6, 2011 the Omaha Public Power District, as required by Nuclear Regulatory Commission guidelines, declared a Notification of Unusual Event[20][21] (minimal level on a 4 level taxonomy) due to flooding of the Missouri River.[22] The Missouri River was above flood stage and expected to rise further, and to remain above flood stage for several weeks to a month. Contractors installed sandbags and earthen berms to protect the facility from flooding.[22] According to officials, the plant was built to withstand a 500 year flooding event

          10

  • #
    Lance Wallace

    As of 10:43 PM PST (California time) Sunday night, it appears that increasing flow down the damaged spillway to 100,000 cubic feet per second has lowered the level in the lake by 4 inches and the emergency spillway is no longer being overtopped. However, about 100,000 people have been ordered to evacuate, and it is taking three hours to get out of the area. Those heading north to Chico (Anthony Watts’ hangout) had an easy time of it, but the southbounders were in trouble. Various fairgrounds in neighboring counties are accepting people, dogs, horses, etc. I am guessing that the immediate threat is lessened, but more rain Wednesday and Thursday may raise it back up. We are assured that the dam itself is not in danger, but no one predicted the breakup of the concrete on the main spillway. Long term, the history shows increasing lake levels over the next few months due to snow melt, and so far this year the snow is about 150% of normal, so this may be a long-term problem.

    100

    • #

      From the streaming coverage on Youtube, the local TV station was advising people NOT to head North (I70).

      Big problem was fuel supply. Seems like there was a choke-point/SNAFU with credit card transactions through the fuel bowsers and some people only got to tap 9 cents worth of fuel. Businesses had mostly evacuated so there were no staff to take cash; only the self-serve pumps with credit card payment.

      30

  • #
    John of Cloverdale, WA, Australia

    Gee Gov Brown, the LA Times, NY Times, The Guardian and Huffington Post will be disappointed, since they reported Climate Scientists said the Californian Drought was permanent due to CO2.

    140

  • #

    This Oroville Dam is approximately the same size as Wivenhoe Dam in Queensland.

    Oroville volume is 3.5 Million Acre Feet (U.S. Survey measurement) and that converts to 4.317 Million Cubic Metres and Wivenhoe’s volume is 4.14 Million Cubic Metres.

    This is the link to the website for the Dam, and there’s a good map there as well, which shows some better detail.

    There is also an underground Hydro power plant at the dam wall, the Hyatt Power Plant which is a pumped hydro plant, so generating power during peak times, and then pumping the water back into the dam during non peak periods.

    The plant has a Nameplate of 820MW and has six units, and an image of the Turbine Hall is at this link, and just click on that small image at the right there.

    From some of the videos I have seen, it looks to be as full as Wivenhoe was during that Brisbane emergency.

    Let’s hope it holds, and recent news seems to indicate that the levels in the main dam are dropping, easing some of the panic I feel sure there must be.

    First time that this emergency spillway has been used since the dam was first constructed back in 1968.

    So, there’s another power plant with a 50 years lifespan.

    Tony.

    160

    • #

      Interesting.

      Since it is pumped Hydro, where do they pump the water back from? Is there a lower level reservoir? It was not apparent on the map.

      Spillway may fail progressively. I doubt if it would create a similar situation to the infamous dambuster raid of WW2
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Chastise

      20

      • #
        OriginalSteve

        Oh noes….does this mean green hydro power will eventually run out if CO2 causes reduced rainfall?

        Oh the irony….

        *sigh*

        Need adults to run things now…sick of these petulant half witted green “children” running things ….

        40

    • #
      TdeF

      “Oroville Dam is an earthfill embankment dam”! Just like Wivenhoe. It is not a solid concrete dam.

      If the earth is eaten away, the dam will fail catastrophically. We just avoided this disaster in Brisbane
      and it was not the decision of the dithering politicians who refused to let the water out, it was the decision of the maintenance committe who installed new plugs which released the water
      just before the catastrophe. A million people would have drowned and Brisbane utterly destroyed, sacrificed to Global Warming and the dams which would never fill again. Wivenhoe could half fill in a single night. That is there is 100% leeway and the same made it to 190% full! This was criminal. So they blamed the engineers, as always. Never the politicians.

      151

      • #
        TdeF

        The usual fear is an overflow would wash the embankment away. However the spillway appears to potential undercut the embankment anyway. Perhaps no one had expected that this emergency release would undercut the dame. In our case, the whole of Brisbane should have been evacuated as three Sydney Harbours crashed into the valley of the Brisbane River with water as high as the dam itself and perhaps higher with the channeling, like a tsunami.

        60

        • #
          TdeF

          Sorry. Typing too quickly.

          The usual fear is an overflow would wash the embankment away. However the spillway meant to prevent the overflow might now undercut the embankment anyway, leading to catastrophe. No one had expected this.

          In our case with Wivenhoe, the whole of Brisbane should have been evacuated as three Sydney Harbours crashed into the valley of the Brisbane River with water as high as the dam itself and perhaps higher with the channeling, like a tsunami. There would have been no day after tomorrow.

          40

          • #
            TdeF

            THe Oroville dam and Aswan dams are the two examples of earthworks dams given in Encyclopedia Brittanica.
            Oroville is the tallest such a dam in the world. If the torrent from the collapsed spillway starts to wash away the earthworks, it could be a disaster.

            20

            • #

              The auxiliary spillway is nowhere near the main dam wall; it looks like it’s on bedrock to the down-stream side of the normal spillway. The main hazard to the main dam is if the debris and eroded dirt cause the spill to “back up” which’d flood the turbine hall.

              Power lines were removed before the spill; I didn’t even notice the transmission towers in later footage so they may have been removed in case their footings got undermined. [It'll be weeks before the generators are back online, but that's a minor issue.]

              The only plausible “collapse” at the dam is that of the wall of the auxiliary spillway which is very narrow at it’s foot. Rocks and concrete were being placed in that area just hours before the spill started.

              I’m only guessing the sequence of events from reports pieced together:

              Initial discharges through the concrete lined service spillway caused the (badly maintained) concrete spillway to develop a big hole. Not knowing how bad the situation was, spillway volume was restricted to about 50,000 cubic feet per second until the situation could be evaluated. Discharge through the power house was restricted to allow the plant to be shut down. Meanwhile, the reduced discharges led to the level behind the dam rising until it topped the wall of the auxiliary/emergency spillway.

              It became clear towards the end of day, that the erosion of debris via the hole in the concrete spillway was down to solid rock. That, and the completion of making safe the power house allowed for the increase of discharges via the “safe” routes.

              The level behind the dam is now about 2 metres below the topping level of the auxiliary spillway so the spill has stopped.

              It’s just start of day on site so time will tell what amelioration/remediation will take place before the rains and the spring melt tests the dam and its spillways again.

              10

    • #
      Yonniestone

      For Tony and other interested I found a laymans guide to dams & spillways from the Institution of Australian Engineers, its a pdf and a basc guide but helpful to visualise the descriptions.

      I’d say the Oroville dam has an uncontrolled chute spillway that can be exposed to being overrun due to the narrow inlet.

      30

      • #
        JLC of Perth

        That is an interesting document – informative but easy for a layman to understand.
        I have always thought dams were rather frightening things, and they look frightening in that document. I don’t like being downstream of a dam. There is that vast, heavy weight of water restrained only by a wall. It is easy to image the wall failing and the ferocious flood that would follow.
        Wikipedia has images of Malpasset dam in France, whose wall collapsed in 1959. Horrifying.
        I hope all will go well at Oroville and the dam and its spillways will hold up.

        40

    • #
      Roy Hogue

      Doggone it, Tony. How come you’re not advisor to President Trump? You should apply for the job. You follow things more closely than anyone in DC and you have more common sense in your little finger than everyone in DC combined — a perfect match for a desperately needed advisor position.

      You might enjoy living in America too. Virginia in the spring is a glorious array of colors and in the fall New England isn’t very far away with it’s spectacular display of colors. And those are only two of the many attractions.

      How about it?

      Well I wouldn’t blame you for not wanting it. Politics here is an even worse swamp than you have in Oz. But it’s tempting…

      20

      • #

        Thanks Roy,

        But it’s tempting…

        Oh no it’s not!

        Although I would like to see Yellowstone, the first National Park in the U.S. and perhaps even the first in the World, first declared by President Ulysses S Grant in 1872.

        I have seen some docos on Yellowstone, and two of them were really good, one about the four seasons at Yellowstone, and the second was as a part of a series by Ken Burns. I know Burns is an avid lefty, but he has done a few good docos, his highly acclaimed one on the Civil War especially, and that one on U.S. National Parks.

        I caught that National Parks series of his by accident, hidden away on SBS at 5PM on a Sunday afternoon a few years back now, a time when virtually no one would be watching, especially SBS. I was hooked from the first minute and watched each of the twelve episodes. Amazing historical stuff, all of it highly interesting.

        Incidentally, a little quirky thing.

        The second name of President Ulysses S Grant is just the letter S, and it stands for nothing, just the initial ‘S’.

        A second President also has just the letter ‘S’ as his second name, Harry S Truman, and in Truman’s case the S signifies both his grandfathers whose names both started with the letter S.

        Tony.

        The National Parks: America’s Best Idea – It’s a six part series, and you can get it on a DVD boxed set, and I highly recommend it. SBS split it into shorter one hour episodes, so it was shown on TV here in 12 parts.

        10

    • #
      Environment Skeptic

      Lets be thankful we do not have nuclear in Au and the associated obvious well documented highly complex risks.

      Also in California… https://sanonofresafety.org/

      01

  • #
    Lance Wallace

    I should have mentioned that the “emergency spillway” is mostly trees, shrubs, and dirt, and the sediment will choke (or is choking) the Feather River, with attendant damage to the fish and other denizens. There is a salmon hatchery downstream and the 4 million or so fingerlings (is that the right word?) will not survive unless they are moved out. I haven’t received word on whether the rescue mission is working out.

    80

    • #
      Hivemind

      From the photos, somebody has built a roadway across the path of the emergency spillway. There doesn’t even appear to have been a bridge to allow water to flow under it.

      That is just mind-boggling. Am I imagining it?

      30

      • #
        Phil R

        No, you’re not imagining it. I think that was the access road to the parking lot, and the more recent videos show that the road has been washed out.

        10

      • #
        AndyG55

        Not really. Bridges cost big money, particularly in that situation…

        The road, which was made of loose fill, would be far cheaper to sacrifice as non critical infrastructure.

        There wold never be anyone on it when the emergency spillway was likely to be operated.

        00

  • #
    Lance Wallace

    Latest update indicates that the rescue operation may have been successful.

    http://www.krcrtv.com/news/local/butte/fish-evacuated-from-feather-river-hatchery/326225498

    50

  • #
    Robert Rosicka

    OT but to good not to mention , humans causing warming at 170 times natural causes , yes they’ve done the math .
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-02-13/humans-accelerating-global-warming-anthropocene-equation/8265326

    40

    • #
      tom0mason

      Yes I saw that too. Pity ABC takes all this hogwash at face value and don’t look further into the figures.

      It is BS. Professor Will Steffen and his Swedish team-mate are just erecting more straw-men arguments.

      80

    • #
      llew jones

      Of course Will Steffen is not a native of Australia and like most of the still wet behind the ears Aussie AGW alarmists don’t have any personal experience of the Australian climate.

      My home state is Victoria:

      “The bushfires of 13 January 1939, known as the Black Friday fires, followed a long drought and a severe, hot, dry summer. Fanned by extremely strong winds, these fires swept rapidly across large areas of Victoria, causing widespread destruction.
      In Victoria an area of almost two million hectares was burned, with 71 people losing their lives. Whole townships were destroyed, many sawmills burned to the ground and thousands of sheep, cattle and horses were killed by the intense heat and flames.”

      http://www.depi.vic.gov.au/fire-and-emergencies/managing-risk-and-learning-about-managing-fire/bushfire-history/black-friday-1939

      I can’t quite remember that day as I was 5 days short of 18 months old then but I do remember as a teenager and older observing, for many years, the sticks of burnt Mountain Ash trees, from 1939, covering the mountains that surrounded Healesville.

      Nothing like that severity has occurred anywhere in Victoria since. To get a proper perspective of the effect of AGW at any specific time in history surely one needs to check the atmospheric concentration of CO2 for each event. In 1939 it is estimated that it was 311 ppm. That is it was Just a little above the pre IR concentration of 280 ppm.

      The temperature on that day in Melbourne was 45.6C subsequently listed as the hottest Melbourne day for the next 70 years (one could be excused for thinking that given the questionable practices of today’s BOM some homogenizing of the older figure downwards was likely to be in play 70 years later).

      “The Black Friday bushfires of 13 January 1939, in Victoria, Australia, were among the worst natural bushfires (wildfires) in the world.”

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Friday_bushfires

      I can remember a series of consecutive days in the mid 1950s of 109F, 112F and 114F. I wore a suit and tie to a cousin’s wedding on the 112F (44.4C) day. Of course we weren’t pansies like the Greenies and Will Steffen though.

      Checking with my fair lady she agrees with me that it was much hotter when we were kids than the fairly pleasant occasional 40C temperatures we now experience. It’s the many cold days that we oldies now experience that make us whinge. She reminded me that on hot days if you walked without shoes on the road you got molten asphalt (bitumen) stuck to your feet.

      I still work 6 days a week in our engineering factory where the temperature can be in the low to high forties in the summer months when our furnaces are on. Sometimes they are on all day.

      70

    • #
      tom0mason

      The usual crowd over at WUWT is currently ripping the paper to shreds with the usual logic, science and sarcasm.

      10

  • #
    Boyfromtottenham

    I saw the recent graph of dam water level, it went vertical (20 feet rise in 6 days!), rather like what happened at Wivenhoe here in brisbane in 2011 during a major rain depression settled over us for several days. At least our Wivenhoe dam was well maintained, apparently unlike the Oroville dam spillway. But in both cases, perhaps those in charge believe that heavy rain is a thing of the past and see no need to take sensible precautions against the need for rapid dam outflows to protect the dam wall. I wish them all the best of luck in California.

    90

    • #
      scaper...

      If the people of Brisbane knew how close they were to getting wiped off the map, they would be furious.

      There was talk of evacuation but it was kept quiet for political reasons. The government took the gamble and won by a head…literally!

      151

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    AndyG55

    What people are not mentioning is the leakage at the left hand end of the emergency spillway.

    Pause the video at the 18 second mark, and note the seepage under the darker grey material. That looks like severe piping. Also note the junction of the emergency spillway and the darker grey material, only small, but a distinct point of weakness.

    It will certainly be interesting to see what happens from here, especially if the rain continues or increases in the catchment area over the next week or so.

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  • #
    Robert Rosicka

    Lucky their in drought .

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  • #
    scaper...

    Does anyone know if Al Gore is visiting California?

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  • #
    Paul Bamford

    The river is only doing what it would have done if no dam wall was there at all.
    Water coming in = water going out.
    But if the emergency spillway gives way then the reticulated water stored in the dam will add to the force of the river, which may well be a catastrophic event.

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  • #
    ExWarmist

    I hope everyone impacted by this disaster finds a safety.

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  • #

    Maybe this flood was unprecedented: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/atmospheric-rivers-california-megaflood-lessons-from-forgotten-catastrophe/

    Well, actually it wasn’t. Native Americans at the time already knew that the San Fernando Valley could become a sea. Which it did in 1862, after two decades of crippling drought. Further north, Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys (the Sacramento is below Oroville) were entirely flooded.

    All before we had climate change!

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    • #
      toorightmate

      In the past 5 days I have heard and read more “catastrophes” than full stops.
      Am I correct in assuming that a few of the record hot February days in NSW and QLD might just be the result of homogenisation?
      I know that the Thargomindah temperature record was FAKE NEWS.

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      • #

        In 1909, the Feather River Basin, which is in the vicinity of Oronville, copped 1,458 mm of rain in 20 days, which, according to some boffins, is only supposed to happen once every twelve millennia in those parts. Mind you, I’d rather have strong dams than comforting statistics.

        In view of events like those of 1861-2 and 1909 it would be surprising if anyone dared to use the magic word “unprecedented” about present conditions in Northern California. Actually…it wouldn’t be so surprising.

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      • #
        Ted O'Brien.

        The thought has crossed my mind at times, but, seriously, the official temps usually run pretty close to the dash of the Corolla. And this new record high was not a small rise. Our Corolla has not been standardised, but it stops me from criticising the official record. My complaint about the record is that it dates from 1991.

        I think the in town station may be still recording. It would be very interesting to compare the two records if it is.

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  • #
    Brian the Engineer

    Just back from sunny California.
    There’s 8 metres of snow in mountains above the dam.
    Wait till that starts to thaw then you will see some runoff!

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  • #
    PeterS

    Is part of the problem caused by unusual earth movements that typically occur prior to a major earthquake?

    20

  • #
    Ted O'Brien.

    From Wiki.

    “On October 17, 2005 three environmental groups filed a motion with the federal government urging federal officials to require that the dam’s emergency spillway be armored with concrete, rather than remain as an earthen spillway.[25][26]“.

    Hmnnnnnn…

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    pat

    a little breaking news – haven’t seen any other report so far:

    13 Feb: NY Post: Carl Campanile: Schneiderman talked with environmental activists ahead of Exxon probe
    State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office was communicating with environmental activists nine months before he launched a securities-fraud investigation into Exxon tied to climate change, court records reveal.
    Documents show Schneiderman’s top staffers were in correspondence with Lee Wasserman of the Rockefeller Family Fund going back to February 2015. Schneiderman launched his probe that November.
    The fund has financed a campaign claiming Exxon misled investors and the public about the dangers of climate change…

    Schneiderman released the names of the climate-change activists he’s communicated with as part of a Freedom of Information Law suit filed by a pro-Exxon group, the Free Market Environmental Law Clinic.
    Lawyers backing Exxon claim the e-mails show Schneiderman was engaged in a political witch hunt, not a legitimate probe. They argue that he should release the contents of the e-mails…
    http://nypost.com/2017/02/13/schneiderman-talked-with-environmental-activists-ahead-of-exxon-probe/

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    pat

    comment in moderation re Breaking News: “Schneiderman talked with environmental activists ahead of Exxon probe”.

    o/t but important:

    13 Feb: Australian: Michael McKenna: Land rights Native Title Act faces urgent changes after Adani move
    Urgent changes to the Native Title Act will be introduced to negate a Federal Court decision this month that invalidated indigenous land use agreements across Australia.
    Attorney-General George Brandis today said the amendments would be introduced into federal parliament this week to remove the “commercial uncertainty’’ created by the “McGlade’’ decision of the full bench of the Federal Court.
    Senator Brandis said prime minister Malcolm Turnbull had given him approval to “proceed urgently’’ with the changes.

    On Friday, the National Native Title Tribunal confirmed it was freezing all new land use agreements across Australia because of the ruling.
    The Weekend Australian revealed that Adani’s $16 billion coal project in central Queensland had stalled after its land use agreement with an indigenous could not be legally registered because of the nationwide freeze.
    At least a further 126 indigenous land-use agreements — ­already registered and covering mines, gas fields and infrastructure projects — are also under threat.

    In an interview with Sky News’ Peter Van Onselen, Senator Brandis said the government was moving to counter the decision, which effectively requires unanimous sign-off for a land use agreement from representatives of an indigenous clan instead of the previous requirement of majority support…

    Until the McGlade decision — which related to a $1.3bn deal struck between the Noongar clan and the West Australian government — the 2010 “Bygrave” decision in the Federal Court made clear a majority of applicants was sufficient for a legally binding indigenous land-use agreement…

    Adani’s Carmichael project — set to be Australia’s largest ever coalmine — is among at least 40 proposed or ­operating resource projects in Queensland alone that are hit by the decision.
    A lucrative land-use agreement between Adani and the Wangan and Jagalingou people had taken years to negotiate but is now frozen because of the Federal Court decision.
    Although the 12 formal native title applicants of the Wangan and Jagalingou were split — with seven to five supporting Adani — a formal “authorisation meeting” last year of clan members voted 294-1 to endorse the agreement.
    FROM COMMENTS:
    Paul: Unanimous support? Bloody hell. If unanimous support for something was required in everything, nothing would ever be achieved! What was the court thinking?…
    cheryl: 294-1 and the Federal Courst cannot see the intent of the aboriginals who voted. Time for some common sense and less lawyers….
    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/indigenous/land-rights-native-title-act-faces-urgent-changes-after-adani-move/news-story/5d9b6712af07fe253e98338606536a3b

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  • #
    John PAK

    A few points.
    1) The hydro plant under the ground has some storm debris blocking it so they cannot vent through the turbines.
    2) The Arctic Polar Front (Jet-Stream) usually resides further N over British Columbia but recently visited Spain and Greece and Oroville which are only ~38ºN. More of these southerly excursions are to be expected and with them more erosion problems.
    3) Recent high humidity and low temperatures mean the land will not dry out as fast as normal.
    4) This over-flow moved a large quantity of soil and rocks that have been deposited down-stream in the Feather River so lowland Oroville will be more prone to flooding next time round.
    5) An earthquake during an over-flow event might cause vibration liquifaction of the slope though it does appear to be already eroded down to rock in many places.
    6) Piers Corbyn’s Solar Lunar long range forecast might be useful to Water Resources as they were clearly not prepared for the severity of the storms and had made no attempt to fix the initial spillway hole.

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    Dave in the States

    Cali/USA has been flushing billions down the co2 mitigation bottomless pit and so called green energy toilet, instead of expanding, improving, and maintaining, its water storage and drainage control infrastructure.

    50

    • #
      Greg Cavanagh

      Yes, the very thing they say is needed, and what all the money is about. Not mitigation of risk mind you, but change the weather to a more benign thing. Such hubris.

      They constantly tell us that the weather will get worse, more rain, more snow, more heat, more wind, and worse as time goes on. Yet they do nothing about it?

      They take money from their kitty and spend it on huge wind and solar projects that are still-born. They take money from the community in the form of raised electricity costs, so the people can’t prepare themselves. And they give money to the UN and Greenpeace for no reason whatsoever.

      They are lost and delusional, plain and simple.

      20

  • #
    Richard Ilfeld

    Once human life is protected, it will become clear that the the problem is management. If California is to be heavily populated,
    providing water for the population becomes a fundamental job of what passes for government. What this tells us is that there is
    water enough available in the watershed over long periods to sustain a population, if retained and managed.

    It is OK to suggest that such management is evil because nature is so beloved, thus requiring government to limit the population to the
    water available. Clearly, for many years, this was not acceptable as numerous water management projects were built.

    This is true all over the world.

    It also seems true that today we lurch from crisis to crisis, struggling with our legacy and the question of our right to manage nature, to the degree we
    can, to unsure our survival and relative prosperity.

    This dam spillway breaking up is garnering headlines. The long slow decline of lake Mead generally is not. The continuing erosion of storage capacity vs.
    population is not. The continuing infeasability of desalination due to power starvation is not.

    Last year’s drought so severe that children would not know what water was also got headlines. The strange counterpoint of endless drought and threatening floods does not seem to be causing the public media much concern or need for reflection.

    The predilection to do bullet trains instead of waster system maintenance also seems unworthy of comment.

    When anthropologists examine ancient civilizations, it is often remarked that a signal achievement was water management, showing highly advanced engineering.

    When future scholars examine our civilization, they might wonder how we had plenty of technology, yet blew it.

    The environmental lobby seems to value their own sophistication and scientific acumen, saving us from nuclear runaway, GMO disasters, CO2 climate conflagration, and runaway halitosis.

    This as a dam made from piled up dirt folks, and it seems to be outside this liberal government’s pay grade to manage same.

    In any form, living downstream from a liberal government is a dangerous place; plumbing always works the same way.

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    John Smith

    Definition “climatsplaining”
    When climate scientists explain how something that they predicted would happen due to climate change doesn’t happen due to climate change.

    Or to paraphrase Ricky Ricardo, “somebody got some climatsplainin’ to do”.

    20

  • #
    Mickey Reno

    I heard some NPR dewdrop over the weekend talking about all the catastrophic climate change going on in California, mentioning both the Oroville reservoir spillway problems AND the frightening fact that some “dry” lake beds are now underwater. What can you say about such ignorance?

    Not thirty, or fifty or a hundred or even five hundred years of observations will give a representative sample of the Earth’s climate variability. The water cycle dwarfs the power of CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere. When will these alarmist CO2 doom mongers, these climate scientits [sic] return to this first principle and actually try to understand our world’s awe-inspiring power.

    40

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    Roy Hogue

    I saw this on yesterday’s news. Lake Oroville was one of the reservoirs so depleted at the beginning of winter that our state “experts” were saying it couldn’t be refiled to normal level in one winter. And here we are with the spillway system in a washout and the lake is full.

    I don’t know whether to feel blessed or cursed. We cannot lose that dam, it’s critical to our water supply in the south end of the state. So far they say the dam itself is still sound and in no danger. The dam is high, 770 feet with 3.5 million acre-feet of water behind it and a failure would be a disaster of monumental proportions.

    I guess you can have too much water as well as too little.

    40

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    Roy Hogue

    And climate change gets the blame. Too bad the winter of 1964 – ’65 saw massive flooding in northern California long before climate change was the cause dujour.

    40

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      Roy Hogue

      The construction of the dam would have placed many miles of railroad under water and a major rerouting of the line was necessary to keep it above water.

      20

  • #
    PhilJourdan

    This is a serious situation for those affected. It was mostly preventable if the alarmist had not lied about the California weather and if the Moonbeam in charge had diverted just a miniscule amount of money they were spending to break laws to inspecting and repairing the spillway. But alas, that does not fit into the meme of the alarmists, so they over sold a normal (for california) drought, and diverted money from infrastructure to buying iPhones for illegal aliens.

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    • #
      Environment Skeptic

      We are basically dealing with a form of hypnosis and the people affected have no way of thinking otherwise. Consideration of this fact should be kept in mind when observing those influenced by hypnosis via the media etc.

      The same kinds of problems of corruption etc affect the nuclear industry and this another problem in California (and elsewhere) is deteriorating by the second. I would say the problems nuclear related are vastly more serious.

      Mind boggling how successful the conditioning process to make people think nuclear is actually clean has been.

      From: https://sanonofresafety.org/

      Southern California Edison is ignoring the problems of thin canisters. Instead they plan to buy almost 100 Holtec thin canisters and store them in an experimental unproven system. Cost is estimated at $4 million each, including labor. Edison refuses to disclose the actual cost, even though this is ratepayer money.

      00

    • #
      ralfellis

      .
      We had the same in the UK. Climate ‘scientists’ said no more snow, so Heathrow did not buy any snow clearing equipment for decades. Then it snowed and the airport was closed for a week in 2010 and 2011. The bill for these debacles should be sent to the climate universities and scientists.

      R

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  • #
    Geoffrey Williams

    Californian environmentalists & greenies can’t manage water.
    Looks like amateur/shoddy engineering plus poor management to me.
    Compare this with the Chinese three gorges dam on the Yangtze river.
    It’s going to take some fixing . . .
    GeoffW

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  • #
    ralfellis

    .
    The main spillway chute may have lifted and ruptured via the venturi effect. The water below the chute is static, while the water above is flowing at a great rate, reducing the pressure. It is the same differential flow that lifts a B747 into the air – 450 tonnes of metal hanging on a very small differential airflow.

    Not sure if engineers take the venturi effect lifting the concrete into account – rather than the more ‘logical’ weight pressing downwards. Saw this same thing happening at an airport. The apron was cracking so they laid enormous 2.5 cm thick sheets of steel on them as a temporary measure. A B-757 opened the taps a little to start taxying and it lifted this enormous great sheet of steel as if it was a piece of paper. This was not jet blast getting under the sheet, as the aircraft was above it – this was pure venturi differential pressure, just as you get on the upper surface of a wing.

    Any engineers out there know if construction engineers calculate for water venturi ‘suction’?

    Ralph

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    AndyG55

    Now its not covered in water, the new pictures up the top show why there is so much worry.

    The crumbly rock is being eroded back towards the base of the emergency spillway.

    If it gets there.. all bets are off, the spillway will be under-cut and will collapse.

    The flow will be enormous and probably eventually eat away the whole area.

    ..maybe a lot quicker than “eventually”

    Why did they ever think this was a good place to build a big dam ?????????????????????????????????

    10

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