All eyes on eroding dam spillway

All eyes on eroding dam spillway

All eyes on eroding dam spillway

Built between 1962 and 1968, the Oroville Dam lies about 150 miles (241 km) northeast of San Francisco.

Authorities lifted mandatory evacuation orders Tuesday for communities below the Oroville Dam.

"Officials now anticipate a failure of the auxiliary spillway within 60 minutes", The National Weather Service said in a warning on Sunday afternoon, urging residents to evacuate in a northward direction toward the town of Chico.

In the main spillway, which is lined, or paved, erosion has caused a hole nearly the size of a football field and at least 40 feet deep to form in the lower part of the channel.

However it was still standing almost three hours later as the department said crews would use helicopters to drop rocks to fill a gouge in the spillway.

"We have concluded it is safe to reduce the emergency evacuation order to an evacuation warning", said Honea, who had made the initial call Sunday to evacuate a large swath of three counties below the imperiled dam.

Water cascading into the Feather River from the damaged Oroville Dam spillway in Butte County, USA.

The surrounding area has been evacuated of almost 200,000 people in preparation collapse.

All eyes on eroding dam spillway

Still, evacuation orders remained in place. Engineers don't know what caused the cave-in, but Chris Orrock, a spokesman for the state Department of Water Resources, said it appears the dam's main spillway has stopped crumbling even though it's being used for water releases. Armoring rock and concrete was being placed around the erosion areas downstream of the emergency spillway, she added.

The Department of Water Resources plans to continue discharging flows at a rate of 100,000 cubic feet per second, with the hope of lowering the reservoir level by 50 feet. "If they lose that 30 feet that's gone".

Preston reports that the general consensus from the emergency response teams is that the situation will remain stable into Friday. Evacuation centers were opened for the people leaving the area.

But he said he was told later that the erosion was not progressing as rapidly as earlier feared and that the amount of water flowing over the spillway had dropped quickly.

Residents of Oroville, a town of 16,000 people 65 miles (105km) north of Sacramento, were told to head north. If the level of the lake isn't lowered ahead of that storm, the lake could begin to overflow again, putting the emergency spillway at risk.

"The state is directing all necessary personnel and resources to deal with this very serious situation", Brown said in a statement Sunday.

DWR had said there has been severe erosion on the emergency spillway, not the main spillway which was damaged by concrete erosion on Tuesday.

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