Roughly 190,000 have been evacuated below the Lake Oroville Dam in California as an emergency, auxiliary spillway shows signs of failure. With experts at the dam expecting an imminent failure of the spillway area Sunday evening, evacuations were ordered as the output of the dam was increased to 100,000 cubic feet per second to alleviate the surplus of water that exists in the lake.
The increased release appears to have prevented additional water from topping the spillway, but the danger of failure remains. As a result of the ongoing failure risk, evacuation orders remain up for the area near the dam.
“The situation has been stressful,” said Mark Ghilarducci, director of the state Office of Emergency Services. “It’s complex and rapidly changing, so we are doing everything we can to support Butte County and the local authorities to be able to address most of the folks who have been displaced.”
California Governor Jerry Brown released a statement Sunday evening after the evacuation order was issued by local authorities. “I’ve been in close contact with emergency personnel managing the situation in Oroville throughout the weekend, and it’s clear the circumstances are complex and rapidly changing,” Brown said. “I want to thank local and state law enforcement for leading evacuation efforts and doing their part to keep residents safe. The state is directing all necessary personnel and resources to deal with this very serious situation.”
While it appears the auxilliary spillway may be stable at the moment, the weather forecast shows more trouble is in store for the state that has been rocked all winter by heavy rain and snow.
The 7-day outlook from the National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center shows more heavy precipitation will impact northern California. The liquid equivalent of 6-7″ of rain and snow is forecast to fall which will put incredible strain on the fragile situation around Lake Oroville.