Lake Oroville, one of the largest man-made lakes in the United States, suffered severe flooding on Saturday that forced hydraulic engineers to activate an emergency spillway on the 770-foot-dam. The spillways, unused for half a century, failed to control the flooding and a large hole formed Sunday afternoon.
This is what the Orville spillway looks like right now. Huge plumes shooting up as the water crashes down. pic.twitter.com/9ATU4HSibs
— Chris Megerian (@ChrisMegerian) February 13, 2017
Local authorities have blamed the hole on unexpected erosion. The spillway is meant to handle 250,000 cubic feet of water per second, according to California Department of Water Resources spokesman Kevin Dossey. But the cracks first formed at only 12,600 feet per second.
Had the spillways totally failed, billions of gallons of water would have flowed from the lake and flooded three counties. In response to the potential flooding, the state government ordered an evacuation that displaced 188,000 nearby people. “Everyone was running around; it was pure chaos,” Oroville resident Maggie Cabral told KFSN. “All of the streets were immediately packed with cars, people in my neighborhood grabbing what they could and running out the door and leaving. I mean, even here in Chico, there’s just traffic everywhere.”
Hundreds of thousands of evacuees blocked the roads, trapping residents in heavy traffic.
Oroville dam and surrounding evacuation pic.twitter.com/1aHjBb1aTf
— zerohedge (@zerohedge) February 13, 2017