Is Failure of the Oroville Dam Possible?
February 11th, 2017 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.
“The last couple of days have not made me very confident in the predictions of engineers associated with the Oroville Dam.
While I am a climate researcher, and not hydrologist, it took me less than an hour midday yesterday (see comments here) to estimate that the emergency spillway would be breached around 9 a.m. PST this morning. I was off by an hour…it was breached at 8 a.m.
But engineers were leaning toward the lake level never getting that high (901 ft.)
This kind of calculation isn’t rocket science. As long as inflow into the lake exceeds outflow (both of which are monitored hourly), the lake level will rise.
Why were engineers reluctant to predict the (admittedly historic) event?”
The latest releases have caused even more damage widening the hole and cutting away at the side of the hill. The lake is at about 95% so they have to keep releasing I would suspect. This is an earthen dam and if this thing goes it will be a major catastrophe. If you live in California stay alert you do not want to have all that water and earth coming at you.
here is a short video:
A video posted on YouTube shows big trouble at the dam, as the spillway has developed an almost 200 ft. hole. For the earthen filled dam this may turn out to serious, though officials are saying there is no danger at this point. .
According to Wikipedia this is the most important water source for the California Department of Water Resources’ State Water Project.
“The Oroville-Thermalito Complex is a group of reservoirs, structures, and facilities located in and around the city of Oroville in Butte County, California. The complex serves not only as a regional water conveyance and storage system, but is the headwaters for, and therefore perhaps is the most vital part of, the California Department of Water Resources’ State Water Project, the world’s largest publicly built and operated water and power development and conveyance system.”
“Operators increased their water releases at the dam on Tuesday as a significant storm rolled through Northern California. However, as peak water releases started happening around noon, people started noticing some concerning signs”
In terms of a catastrophic failure besides the residents below who could lose everything and the immediate lose of life, there also could be major impacts throughout California in terms of water and power.
This is something to definitely keep an eye on.