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California Narrowly Averts Disaster at Oroville Dam

February 12, 2017 image of water flowing over emergency spillway at Oroville Dam in California

Earlier in February severe rain caused the Oroville Dam in Sacramento to reach capacity. The dam is an earth fill dam approximately 770 feet high, making it one of the tallest dams of this type in the Country. On February 11, water began flowing over the emergency spillway, which prior to that point had never been used, and caused erosion at the base of the weir, threatening to undermine the wall at the top of the spillway and potentially cause a catastrophic failure of the dam. Local police officials ordered a massive evacuation of residents downstream of the dam. The dam didn’t fail and this week flow across the main spillway was stopped to allow officials time to evaluate the damage. The LA Times article linked below has a good summary of many of the issues that led to this crisis. And this article discusses the most recent developments with the shutting off of the flow at the spillway to evaluate damage. [Source: Read more about the Oroville Dam at LA Times. Image: USA Today]