What You Need To Know: Oroville Dam

Jason Newton, left, of the Department of Water Resources, takes a picture of water going over the emergency spillway at Oroville Dam Saturday, Feb. 11, 2017, in Oroville, Calif. Water started flowing over the spillway,at the nation's tallest dam, for the first time Saturday morning after erosion damaged the Northern California dam's main spillway.(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
Jason Newton, left, of the Department of Water Resources, takes a picture of water going over the emergency spillway at Oroville Dam Saturday, Feb. 11, 2017, in Oroville, Calif. Water started flowing over the spillway,at the nation's tallest dam, for the first time Saturday morning after erosion damaged the Northern California dam's main spillway.(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

 

2 p.m.

A California sheriff says the risks to a damaged spillway at the nation’s tallest dam are significantly reduced because an inspection found no further erosion.

Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said Tuesday that experts found no additional damage to “compromise the overall integrity” of the spillway. He says the lake behind Oroville Dam also is capable of handling additional rain from an expected storm this week.

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1:55 p.m.

Authorities have lifted an evacuation order for nearly 200,000 California residents who live below a dam with a damaged spillway that threatened to collapse and cause catastrophic flooding.

Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said Tuesday that residents should stay prepared in case the situation changes. He says the water level at the lake behind Oroville Dam, the nation’s tallest, is low enough to accommodate an expected storm.

1:45 p.m. Tuesday

Evacuation orders have been lifted.

12:50 p.m. Tuesday

The National Weather Service’s Sacramento office says rain will move through late Wednesday and Thursday morning, with 2 inches to 4 inches in the foothills and mountains. But the storm is looking colder than initially projected, meaning lower snow levels and less runoff into Sierra reservoirs than the storms last week.

The brunt of a Friday storm appears to be headed toward Southern California, with lighter rain in the north. Forecasters say rain will diminish Saturday, pick up on Sunday, followed by a wetter, more dynamic storm Monday into Tuesday.

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12:40 p.m.

A California dam inspector says authorities may never know the exact causes of the earth and concrete blow-outs below the Lake Oroville dam.

Emergency crews were working Tuesday to fill a hole in the emergency spillway for flood-water from the dam, which is the nation’s tallest. Trouble at Lake Oroville started a week ago when workers noticed torrential rain and snow-melt had torn a hole in the dam’s main spillway.

Eric Holland of the state Department of Water Resources’ dam-safety division says any of a number of different problems could have caused the spillway troubles. Holland says authorities often never discover in these cases what exactly happened, because flood water has washed out everything at the scene.

Authorities have evacuated nearly 200,000 people in three counties while they work to ensure the dam can handle more rain expected later this week.

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12:30 p.m.

A little boy turning 3 years old at a California evacuation shelter almost didn’t get a birthday party this year.

With just three hours left on his big day Monday, a group of California Highway Patrol officers showed up with a makeshift celebration at the Chico shelter. They brought him an ice cream cake, a balloon, a Captain America figurine, and of course, a song.

A Facebook Live video of the touching moment has gotten more than 40,000 views in just 12 hours and nearly 900 shares and counting.

CHP Officer Logan Callahan says he learned of the boy’s birthday earlier in the day from the boy’s father, who expressed disappointment in not being able to make his son a cake.

A father of a boy the same age, Callahan says he just had to do something.

Mike Wrobel, an area man who took the video, says other evacuees joined in the song and everyone was “grinning ear to ear.”

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12:05 p.m.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer says President Donald Trump is keeping a “close eye” on the public safety crisis caused by a damaged Northern California dam.

Some 200,000 residents have been ordered evacuated after officials feared a spillway at the country’s tallest dam was in danger of imminent failure. Water levels in the lake behind Oroville Dam have since receded, lessening the danger of catastrophic flooding downstream. But the evacuation order remains in place.

Spicer said at a Washington press conference that the president is in contact with state officials and working with federal disaster relief agencies.

Spicer said it’s an example of why Congress needs to pass major infrastructure upgrades for the country.

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10:30 a.m.

Dozens of schools in evacuation areas below a damaged dam are closed, many for the week.

Nearly 200,000 people who evacuated over fears that a spillway at Lake Oroville could fail and unleash a wall of water have to stay away indefinitely while officials race to repair it before more rains arrive Thursday.

Other school officials say they will keep facilities closed until authorities tell them the area is safe.

Schools in the Wheatland Union High School District, Plumas Lake Elementary School District, Yuba City and Live Oak unified school districts and Browns Elementary School District are closed.

The Marysville Joint Unified School District said Tuesday that it would close schools for the rest of the week. A dozen school districts in Butte County also are closed for the week.

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10:15 a.m.

Police say at least a handful of homes and businesses have been burglarized following an evacuation order Sunday over fears that a damaged spillway at Lake Oroville could fail.

Nearly 200,000 people who evacuated Sunday have to stay away indefinitely while officials race to repair the spillway before more rains arrive Thursday.

The Oroville Mercury Register reports (http://bit.ly/2kGTXzt ) that Lt. Gil Zarate says officers are beefing up patrols to dissuade crime amid empty homes and businesses. Police have made one arrest for burglary at a liquor store.

OROVILLE (AP) — The Latest on problems with an emergency spillway at the nation’s tallest dam:

7 p.m. (Monday)

Gov. Jerry Brown says he wasn’t previously aware of a report that surfaced Monday indicating environmentalists raised concerns about the Oroville Dam emergency spillway in 2005.

He says he’s glad he found out about the report and adds that it was not part of previous records he had seen.

The 2005 motion filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission shows three advocacy groups said using the emergency spillway on the tallest U.S. dam would cause significant erosion. The groups warned of a failure of the dam itself that would threaten lives and property.

State officials said in 2008 no “significant concerns” about the spillway’s integrity had been raised in any government or independent review.

6:20 p.m.

Gov. Jerry Brown is asking the Trump administration for federal assistance in responding to a potential failure of a spillway at the Oroville Dam in Northern California.

In a letter to President Donald Trump released Monday, Brown asks for help for the three Northern California counties affected.

Brown says aid is needed to assist the 188,000 residents of Butte, Sutter and Yuba counties who were ordered to evacuate Sunday after concerns an emergency spillway could give way, unleashing a gush of water to downstream towns.

Brown has criticized Trump on many of his initiatives, but at a news conference Monday he lauded the president’s plan to invest $1 trillion on infrastructure.

The governor says California and Washington will work “in a constructive way” to repair failing infrastructure in the state.

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5:20 p.m.

A state school official says any school forced to close because of evacuations may be able to recover attendance funding, the main revenue source for local districts.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson says he has directed his staff to help affected school administrators to apply for waivers due to school closures.

Torlakson says schools in California should not suffer financially “for putting the safety of our students first based on these unprecedented flood dangers.”

Butte, Sutter and Yuba counties on Sunday ordered nearly 200,000 residents to evacuate.

In Butte County, where the Oroville Dam is located, 13 of 15 school districts were closed. The county has about 31,000 total public school students.

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5:05 p.m.

The California Department of Water Resources says helicopters are dropping loads of rock on a hole at the lip of Oroville Dam’s emergency spillway.

Workers are hoisting giant white bags filled with rocks and at least two helicopters flying them and releasing them in the spillway’s erosion. Dump trucks full of boulders also are on their way to dump their cargo on the damaged spillway.

The barrier at the nation’s tallest dam is being repaired a day after authorities ordered mass evacuations for everyone living below the lake out of concerns the spillway could fail and send a 30-foot wall of water roaring downstream.

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4:30 p.m.

California’s U.S. senators are calling on President Donald Trump to approve a disaster declaration for the state in response to damage from recent storms.

Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris wrote in a letter Monday that the situation is especially dire downriver from Oroville Dam, where damage has threatened flooding and forced nearly 200,000 people to evacuate.

The senators are asking the president to provide $162.3 million in disaster assistance that California requested.

The lake behind Oroville Dam swelled significantly with this winter’s rains and the collapse of its damaged spillway threatens to flood downstream communities.

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3:35 p.m.

A California dam threatened by a damaged emergency spillway has operated under temporary licenses for a decade.

A spokeswoman for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission says a 50-year license for Oroville Dam, the nation’s tallest, expired in January 2007. Mary O’Driscoll told The Associated Press that the facility has been operating under an existing license that’s renewed each year.

The California Department of Water Resources, which operates the dam, applied for a new 50-year license in 2005.

O’Driscoll said the federal agency finally received all the necessary permits and other documents needed to decide on the new license last December.

Nearly 200,000 people have been ordered to leave their homes out of fear that a damaged spillway could collapse.

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2:45 p.m.

Gov. Jerry Brown has not announced immediate plans to visit Oroville or meet with residents who have been evacuated.

Brown spokeswoman Deborah Hoffman says the governor’s primary focus any time there is an emergency is always on the response itself, not photo ops that can pull resources away — or distract — from the task at hand. She said an emergency order was issued Sunday.

Meanwhile, California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and emergency operation officials met with residents at an evacuation center in Woodland, California, about 80 miles south of the Oroville Dam.

Evacuations for at least 188,000 people living below the dam were ordered Sunday after officials warned the emergency spillway was in danger of failing and unleashing uncontrolled floodwaters on towns below.

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1:45 p.m.

Documents show environmentalists raised concerns years ago about the stability of the emergency spillway at the tallest U.S. dam but state officials dismissed them, insisting the structure was safe.

In a 2005 motion filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, three advocacy groups said using Lake Oroville’s earthen spillway would cause significant erosion because it wasn’t armored with concrete.

They said soil, rocks and debris could be swept into the Feather River, potentially damaging bridges and power plants. The groups warned of a failure of the dam itself, threatening lives and property.

Nearly three years later, state officials said no “significant concerns” about the spillway’s integrity had been raised in any government or independent review.

Bill Croyle, acting head of California’s Department of Water Resources, said Monday that he wasn’t familiar with the 2005 warnings.

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12:45 p.m.

The sheriff of a California county where thousands of people were evacuated as a damaged spillway on a huge dam threatened to fail says repairs may need to be made before residents are allowed to go home.

But Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea didn’t say how long the fixes could take and offered no timetable for lifting the evacuation order.

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12:40 p.m.

The acting head of California’s water agency says he’s “not sure anything went wrong” on a damaged spillway at the nation’s tallest dam.

The comments from acting Director Bill Croyle come after officials told residents for days that the damage was nothing to be concerned about but then told nearly 200,000 people late Sunday to get out in an hour.

The sheriff in a county where thousands of people have been evacuated also says he sees the move as a double success.

Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said public safety officials worked to evacuate people and the Department of Water Resources dealt with the situation at hand.

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12:30 p.m.

Water officials say storms expected later this week near communities evacuated over the threat of a spillway collapse at the nation’s tallest dam will be smaller than last week.

Bill Croyle, acting director of California Department of Water Resources, said more is water leaving Lake Oroville reservoir than coming in. But rain is forecast for Thursday.

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12:30 p.m.

The sheriff in a county where thousands of people have been evacuated over the threat of a spillway collapse at the nation’s tallest dam says he realizes it’s been a hardship on the community.

Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea says it was difficult to decide to ask people to leave their homes, and that their primary purpose is to ensure safety. They’re trying to figure out when people can go home.

Honea also said more than 500 Butte County jail inmates safely transferred to Alameda County Jail farther south.

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12:25 p.m.

Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea says the evacuation below the nation’s tallest dam because of the threat of flooding from a damaged spillway will not end right away. Officials said Monday that they are working on a plan to allow residents to return home when it’s safe.

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12:15 p.m.

Residents and local officials have described a panicked and chaotic scene on roads and freeways during an evacuation over the threat of a spillway collapse at the nation’s tallest dam.

Jodye Manley of Olivehurst says she and her husband were having dinner Sunday at her daughter’s house in Sacramento when she got word from a city councilman friend that her area would probably be evacuated.

She says the couple got gas and made a mad dash to get their four dogs and three cats. Manley says she and her neighbors were completely panicked and that the scene “was almost like a movie.”

She says the traffic-filled return to Sacramento was terrifying, with people thinking the spillway would go at any moment.

Chico Councilman Andrew Coolidge says the seven shelters he visited are packed with residents who describe similar terror on jam-packed roads to safety.

7:20 a.m.

Kimberly and Patrick Cumings just moved to Oroville from Fresno with 3-year-old daughter Elizabeth a month ago because of a new job.

They were eating at a restaurant when the evacuation order happened and ended up in an evacuation shelter without their belongings.

A driver with a large vehicle and three children of her own gave them a ride to the Red Cross evacuation center at the Silver Dollar Fairgrounds in Chico, where they stayed Sunday night.

They say they thought about waiting it out but decided against it.

They left all of their belongings at the hotel where they were staying. Kimberly Cumings says she’d rather be safe than sorry.

6:10 a.m.

State officials are waiting for the light of dawn to inspect an erosion scar on the potentially hazardous emergency spillway at northern California’s Oroville Dam.

California Department of Water Resources Action Director Bill Croyle says officials in helicopters overflew the spillway Sunday night to visually inspect it.

Evacuations for at least 188,000 people living below the dam were ordered Sunday after officials warned the emergency spillway was in danger of failing and unleashing uncontrolled flood waters on towns below.

Water levels at the huge dam are continuing to drop and stopping water from spilling over the emergency spillway.

California Department of Water Resources officials say flows into the lake are just under 45,000 cubic feet per second. Outflows remain high at nearly 100,000 cubic feet per second.

5:35 a.m.

 Water levels at northern California’s Lake Oroville are continuing to drop and stopping water from spilling over a big dam’s potentially hazardous emergency spillway.

 Evacuations for at least 188,000 people living below the dam were ordered Sunday after officials warned the emergency spillway was in danger of failing and unleashing uncontrolled flood waters on towns below.

California Department of Water Resources officials say flows into the lake are just under 45,000 cubic feet per second. Outflows remain high at nearly 100,000 cubic feet per second.

Officials ordered the evacuation because possible failure of the emergency spillway could send a 30-foot wall of water into communities.

State Fire and Rescue Chief Kim Zagaris says at least 250 California law enforcement officers are in the area of the dam and evacuation routes to manage the exodus of residents and ensure evacuated towns don’t face looting or other criminal activity.

11:50 p.m.

A California National Guard official says they will provide eight helicopters to assist with emergency spillway reconstruction at the nation’s tallest dam located about 150 miles northeast of San Francisco.

Adjunct General David S. Baldwin said at a news conference late Sunday that the helicopters will also be available for search and rescue Monday near the Oroville Dam.

He added that the California National Guard put out a notification to all 23,000 soldiers and airmen to be ready to deploy if needed.

Baldwin says the last time an alert like Sunday’s was issued for the entire California National Guard was the 1992 riots.

Evacuations for at least 188,000 people were ordered after officials warned the emergency spillway was in danger of failing and unleashing uncontrolled flood waters on towns below.

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11:30 p.m.

Gov. Jerry Brown has issued an emergency order to fortify authorities’ response to the emergency at a Northern California dam and help with evacuations.

The Oroville Dam, which located about 150 miles northeast of San Francisco, has erosion on its emergency spillway and evacuation orders were given to 188,000 people south of the dam in case the spillway failed.

Brown said late Sunday the state is directing all necessary personnel and resources to deal with a “complex and rapidly changing” situation.

His office says the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services is coordinating with local and federal emergency response officials.

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11:15 p.m.

A Northern California sheriff says evacuation orders affecting 188,000 people will stand until there is more information on the condition of the nation’s tallest dam’s emergency spillway.

Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea says there are a lot of unknowns about the situation at the Oroville Dam, which located about 150 miles northeast of San Francisco.

He spoke at a news conference late Sunday and said a lot of people had to be displaced to ensure public safety and that continues to be his focus.

State Fire and Rescue Chief Kim Zagaris says at least 250 law enforcement officers from throughout the state are in the area or en route to help keep things safe for the people who evacuated.

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11 p.m.

A California water official says no repair work was done Sunday on the eroded emergency spillway at the nation’s tallest dam.

Lake Oroville is about 150 miles northeast of San Francisco, and the 770-foot-tall Oroville Dam is the nation’s tallest.

Earlier Sunday, authorities mentioned a plan to plug the hole by using helicopters to drop rocks into the crevasse.

Acting Director Department of Water Resources Bill Croyle said at a news conference late Sunday that no corrective measures were taken after looking at the flow and available resources.

He said officials will be able to assess the damage to the emergency spillway now that the water is no longer spilling over the top.

He added that the integrity of the dam has not impacted.

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10:30 p.m.

A California water official says 100,000 cubic feet per second continue to flow down the Orville Dam’s main spillway.

Department of Water Resources Acting Director Bill Croyle said at a news conference late Sunday that the plan is to continue withdrawing that amount of water for as long as possible.

Croyle says a key goal is to reduce the dam’s level ahead of upcoming storms forecast to reach the area Wednesday.

Water levels at Lake Orville rose so high that an emergency spillway was used Saturday for the first time in almost 50 years. Officials noticed erosion on the emergency spillway on Sunday.

Croyle says officials have been unable to access the erosion scar but will be able to analyze the damage better now that water is below its level.

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10:15 p.m.

Authorities say there is no more water going over the emergency spillway at a Northern California dam.

Officials put out an evacuation order Sunday afternoon saying the spillway at Orville Dam could fail within an hour.

At least 130,000 people in downstream areas have been asked to evacuate.

Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said at a news conference late Sunday that the evacuation orders will stand until more information is analyzed.

8:00 p.m.

At least 130,000 people have been asked to evacuate over concerns California’s Oroville Dam’s emergency spillway could fail.

Officials say Oroville Lake levels are decreasing as they let water flow from its heavily damage, main spillway but point out water is still spilling over the dam.

California officials say the cities of Oroville, Gridley, Live Oak, Marysville, Wheat land, Yuba City, Plumas Lake, and Olivehurst are all under evacuation orders.

6:45 p.m.

Butte County Sheriff Koney Honea says engineers with the California Department of Water Resources informed him shortly after 6 p.m. that the erosion on the emergency spillway at the Oroville Dam is not advancing as fast as they thought.

Honea says two inches of water is still coming over the dam, but that is significantly down from earlier flows.

Honea says there is a plan to plug the hole by using helicopters to drop rocks into the crevasse.

He says the evacuation order went out after engineers spotted a hole that was eroding back toward the top of the spillway.

Honea adds authorities wanted to get people moving quickly to save lives in case “the worst-case scenario came into fruition.”

California officials say the cities of Gridley, Live Oak, Nicolaus, Yuba City and communities near Feathers River have been added to the evacuation order.

Hundreds of cars in wall-to-wall traffic can be seen on Highway 99 as people stream out of Oroville away from the dam.

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5:45 p.m.

Authorities in Yuba County are asking people living in the valley floor to evacuate.

The Yuba County Office of Emergency Services says people should take routes to the east, south, or west and avoid traveling north toward Oroville.

The California Department of Water Resources says it is releasing as much as 100,000 cubic feet per second from the main, heavily damaged spillway to try to drain the lake.

Department of Water Resources spokesman Kevin Dossey tells the Sacramento Bee the emergency spillway was rated to handle 250,000 cubic feet per second, but it began to show weakness Sunday at a small fraction of that. Flows through the spillway peaked at 12,600 cubic feet per second at 1 a.m. Sunday and were down to 8,000 cubic feet per second by midday.

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5:15 p.m.

Officials have ordered residents near the Oroville Dam in Northern California to evacuate the area, saying a “hazardous situation is developing” after an emergency spillway severely eroded.

The Butte County Sheriff’s Office says the emergency spillway could fail within an hour unleashing uncontrolled flood waters from Lake Oroville.

The department says people in downstream areas need to leave the area immediately.

It says residents of Oroville, a town of 16,000 people, should head north toward Chico and that other cities should follow orders from their local law enforcement agencies.

Water began flowing over the emergency spillway at the dam on Saturday after for the first time in its nearly 50-year history after heavy rainfall.

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12:44 p.m.

Officials say water will continue to flow over an emergency spillway at the nation’s tallest dam for another day or so.

Water began flowing over the emergency spillway at the Oroville Dam in Northern California on Saturday for the first time in its nearly 50-year history after heavy rainfall.

California Department of Water Resources spokesman Eric See said at a Sunday press conference that skies are clear and the overflow is steadily slowing. It’s expected to stop by midday Monday.

In addition to the emergency spillway, water also flowed through the main spillway that was significantly damaged from erosion. Officials said they’ll assess the damage starting Monday.

See stressed the dam is structurally sound and there was no threat to the public.

About 150 miles northeast of San Francisco, Lake Oroville is one of California’s largest man-made lakes.

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