Oroville Dam Evacuations: Here Are The Latest Updates

Tyler Durden's picture

Following a woefully belated response by California authorities' to the dangerous situation unfolding at the Lake Oroville Dam in Northern California over the weekend, an evacuation order forcing some 200,000 people living below the tallest dam in the US remained in place early on Monday after residents were abruptly told to flee when a spillway appeared in danger of collapse.

The Oroville dam is nearly full following winter storms that brought relief to the state after four years of drought. Water levels were less than 7 feet (2 meters) from the top of the dam on Friday. State authorities and engineers on Thursday began releasing water from the dam after noticing that large chunks of concrete were missing from a spillway.

California Governor Jerry Brown asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency on Friday to declare the area a major disaster due to flooding and mudslides brought on by the storms.

As reported last night, authorities issued the evacuation order on Sunday, saying that a crumbling emergency spillway on Lake Oroville Dam in north California could give way and unleash floodwaters onto rural communities along the Feather River. "Immediate evacuation from the low levels of Oroville and areas downstream is ordered," the Butte County sheriff said in a statement posted on social media.

The video below summarizes the situation at the damaged dam.

Sparking panic, the California Department of Water Resources said on Twitter at about 4:30 p.m. PST (0030 GMT Monday) that the spillway next to the dam was "predicted to fail within the next hour" despite local authorities suggesting the situation was under control for much of Saturday and early Sunday.

As further reported on Sunday night, Butte County Sheriff Korey Honea told an earlier news briefing he was told by experts that the hole forming in the spillway could compromise the structure. Rather than risk thousands of lives, the decision was made to order evacuations.

Officials said they feared the damaged spillway could unleash a 30-foot wall of water on Oroville, north of the state capital Sacramento. They said evacuation orders remained in place for some 188,000 people in Oroville, Yuba County, Butte County, Marysville and nearby communities and would be re-evaluated at dawn.

Luckily, several hours later the situation appeared less dire, as the damaged spillway remained standing.  The state water resources department said crews using helicopters would drop rocks to fill a huge gouge, and authorities were releasing water to lower the lake's level after weeks of heavy rains in the drought-plagued state. By 10 p.m., state and local officials said the immediate danger had passed with water no longer flowing over the eroded spillway. But they cautioned that the situation remained unpredictable.

"Once you have damage to a structure like that it's catastrophic," acting Water Resources director Bill Croyle told reporters. But he stressed "the integrity of the dam is not impacted" by the damaged spillway. Any further deterioration may depend on further rainfall in the region, which on Saturday prompted the Lake Oroville dam to spill over for the first time in its 48 year history.

Asked about the evacuation order, Croyle said "It was a tough call to make." He added: "It was the right call to make."

The Yuba County Office of Emergency Services urged evacuees to travel only to the east, south or west. "DO NOT TRAVEL NORTH TOWARD OROVILLE," the department warned on Twitter.

Meanwhile, to help those affected by the spillway failure, evacuation centers were set up at a fairgrounds in Chico, California, about 20 miles northwest of Oroville, but major highways leading south out of the area were jammed as residents fled the flood zone and hotels quickly filled up. Javier Santiago, 42, fled with his wife, two children and several friends to the Oroville Dam Visitors Center in a public park above the dam and the danger zone.

With blankets, pillows and a little food, Santiago said: "We’re going to sleep in the car."

The earthfill dam is just upstream and east of Oroville, a city of more than 16,000 people. At 770 feet (230 meters) high, the structure, built between 1962 and 1968, is the tallest U.S. dam, exceeding the Hoover Dam by more than 40 feet (12 meters).

NBC 24 summarizes the latest situation at the dam:

The Lake Oroville Dam Emergency/Auxiliary Spillway structure has suffered "potentially catastrophic damage" as a result of erosion secondary to water flow. This damage "could result in catastrophic failure of the auxiliary spillway."

The California Department of Water Resources (KWR) has increased exhaust water flow from the gated main spillway to 100,000 cfs in order to attempt to decrease Lake Oroville water levels. The water has quit spilling over the auxiliary spillway at this point. Helicopters will be depositing rock filled containers to strengthen the potential failure point.

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) wants people to know that the Oroville Dam itself is sound, and is a separate structure from the auxiliary spillway.

These developments caused the Butte County Sheriff, Kory L. Honea, to order the mandatory evacuation of the City of Oroville south to the Sutter County Line. Residents are advised to evacuate to one of the shelters listed in the shelter section below. Officials say over 188,000 people have been evacuated in Northern California due to the flooding from the spillways of Oroville Dam.

According to Oroville lake levels have receded to the point that auxiliary spillway flows have stopped. DWR hopes to push over a million acre feet of water over the main spillway in the next week, clearing the way for much needed flood storage in the lake. Governor Brown has issued an emergency order to bolster the state’s response to the situation and support subsequent local evacuations.

The State Operations Center at Cal OES headquarters is in full activation now, gathering and providing information and support to communities and state agencies involved in the Lake Oroville and spillway emergency. Authorities in Oroville and surrounding areas in Butte County have advised residents to evacuate due to instability of the Auxiliary Spillway at Lake Oroville. Butte County disabled residents needing assistance evacuating can dial 2-1-1 for assistance. The main number for Butte County Public Information for this situation is (530) 872-5951. Yuba or Sutter County residents can call 1-866-916-3566.

Butte County offices in the Oroville area will be closed Monday due to the evacuations from the spillway incident.

A Flash Flood Warning is in effect due to potential failure of a portion of the auxiliary spillway of Oroville Dam remains in effect until 4:15 P.M. Monday for south central Butte County.

Meanwhile, authorities warn evacuees that if they find hotels/motels that they believe are exhibiting price gouging (raising their rates just for this occasion), they can report this to the state Board of Equalization. The practice is illegal.

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Chris Dakota's picture
Chris Dakota (not verified) Feb 13, 2017 8:09 AM

And the top story at San Francisco Chronicle is Grammy tweets and Resist at Ocean beach.



Latina Lover's picture

San Francisco Liberals are especially deranged.   The feminazi's would rather wear Hijabs than admit Islam oppresses women (albiet it is an improved look for the hairy, smelly land whales that regularly beach off the embarcadero). The beta low T cucks, meanwhile virtue signal their approval for non gender specific beauty while secretly jerking off to porn in their parents basement.

USisCorrupt's picture

It couldn't happen to nicer people.

847328_3527's picture

"No one saw this coming...," the dam inspectors told the committee.



detached.amusement's picture

No one saw this coming?  Then they'll have to explain the trucks there in 2013 inspecting the site exactly where the damage is, a whole line of trucks.


Surprise, I cant get to Jim Stone's updates today....he's been harping on this like crazy...

MillionDollarBonus_'s picture

This is what happens when you have conservatives recklessly cutting government funding for critical projects, which puts thousands of peoples’ lives in danger. How many more people need to be put in harm’s way before we accept that austerity doesn’t work?

An Afrocentric History Of White People

fleur de lis's picture


Your resopnse is a perfect example of why California is literally crumbling.


Latina Lover's picture

Give MDB a break. He is ZH's favorite Troll, a concise digest of current SJW 'thought'.

Tarshatha's picture

Trump and the Russians are clearly to blame.

Son of Loki's picture

"What we need is some sensible dam legistlation."


~ Soweeto

PrayingMantis's picture


... damn! ... Californicating libtard snowflakes should protest ;)...


Joe Davola's picture

Cryin' won't help you, prayin' won't do you no good

fleur de lis's picture

The inspection records for that dam should be made public.

All the California liberals are screaming in defense of illegals while the state literally crumbles around them.

That state is the biggest example of reckless and irresponsible governance with absolute fiscal mismanagement.

The first thing the Federal Babysitters should do after looking at the records is fire every single .gov rep that is directly or indirectly responsible for the dam.

That would free up enough money for workmen and engineers to repair the dam.

To much money is going to petulant adolescents in grownup costumes.


By the way, does anyone know the diagnostic code for arrested emotional development?

Because it seems like a requirement for .gov employment in California. 



Jubal Early's picture

I am pretty sure that lake Oroville was another Army Corps of Engineers project, and likely all maintenance would be planned and implemented by the COE with cost sharing likely for California and Marysville.

The COE were also heavily involved in levy breaks in the lake during the flooding in New Orleans in 2005.

If I were to spread blame, I would point at that queer Obama and the LGBQAA army that he bastardized.


Mr. Universe's picture

Gee, perhaps the beneficiaries of the water, BIGAGRA could foot the bill for their fair share. No that would cut into profits, the people are going to pay anyways. That translates to the Japanese paying more for California almonds and rice.

"Once you have damage to a structure like that it's catastrophic," acting Water Resources director Bill Croyle told reporters. But he stressed "the integrity of the dam is not impacted" by the damaged spillway.

That is until it's not. Then all hell breaks lose.

Seeing Red's picture

Erosion near an Oroville reservoir emergency spillway was first predicted in court documents filed by environmentalists more than a decade ago.

In a technical memo on Lake Oroville’s discharge, the Yuba County Water Agency wrote in 2002 that if the Department of Water Resources used the emergency spillway, “extensive erosion would take place” and that “the spillway road and possibly high voltage transmission towers would be impacted,” according to a motion to intervene on the licensing filed by environmentalist groups in 2005.

“Because the area downstream from the emergency spillway crest is an unlined hillside, significant erosion of the hillside would occur,” the document said


FYI, my neighbor here (CA) is ex-water-dept and told me some interesting stories about the arrogance of the Dam/waterway/etc engineers involved in such projects -- they literally couldn't be "told" anything -- they would either ignore you or just get extremely angry.  He also has some stories about SoCAL water managers -- let's just say zero sympathy for them (given the way LA has been able to rape the rest of the state).  And California's water laws are a convoluted disaster.

FDL:  DO tell us more about the need for "Federal Babysitters" ... sounds like that will fix everything.  No arrogance there.

Bastiat's picture

Seems like there could be a budget problem in CA with this on top of the missing $1.4 billion.  Maybe it's time to look into just what kind of "accounting error" caused the $1.4 blillion to go missing.  CA has a law that the budget must be alanced each year.  I don't suppose they've been fudging the numbers and the accumulated fudge-pack just bobbed to the surface?

Ghost of Porky's picture

Last year: We must increase taxes because of the drought.

This year: We must increase taxes because of the floods.


Pool Shark's picture






DeadFred's picture

There's a good chance this comes out as much ado for nothing BUT the fact that the lake is going over the top is a problem. The huge watershed above the lake is expected to take another 10 inches of rain in the next 10 days. They are currently letting out about 100K cf/s with about 80 coming in so as to have a bit of spare capacity. LOL. A good storm can send 300K cf/s into the lake and 80% of it will going to go over that earthen spillway and down into a channel that can only take 200K. How much will get flooded in the question. The big problem is that all the other reservoirs are near capacity and the DWR has been micromanaging those levels to keep pressure off the aging levees. I had a friend working in DWR in the 80s when we had similar rains. After the rains finally ended to told me "Fred, (I was still alive back then) if the rain had lasted one more hour we would have lost control of every reservoir in the North State, they were all at the top". Unless this week's rain fail to arrive there will be flooding in the Oroville area, but will the rest of the flood control system fail as well. will there be a billion in damage or will it be a trillion if the rains keep coming and they lose control across the whole valley? From what my friend told me that time there are a lot of worried flood control workers now who are keeping their mouths shut. They aren't allowed to talk about worst case scenarios.

idahobandito's picture

One problem is that the 100-130k cfs they are releasing is that it is further erroding the sink hole in the main spillway. when it finally cuts around and bypasses the spray blocks at the end of the spillway, it will errode the other side and cut through the bank causing some flooding. That was the original reason for reducing the main spillway flow and allowing the auxillary spillway to overflow. They wanted to prevent the main spillway from futher damage. I don't know if they could have opened the sluice valves at the dam earlier to prevent the build up, or the capacity of the sluice vales in relation to the inflow.


Sick Underbelly's picture

Yeah, and we probably won't ever know.

I bet they haven't documented shit of what they've done, or what they've discussed, as the best way to never have blame come down is to be able to just keep pointing fingers or remain quiet, and sure-as-fuck, don't document what happened.

Darkman17's picture

in other news, SF gives free community college and basic income!a

Pure Evil's picture

Don't forget about the free sex reassignment surgery.

detached.amusement's picture

Yes, please tell us all about how things just magically fail at less than 40% of their designed & rated capacity.....sans natural catastrophe or man-sabotage.

Blankone's picture

Design error and faulty construction.

MDB used to be entertaining but then some have noticed he pollutes certain threads in a pattern.  As if there is a underlining purpose.

detached.amusement's picture

Wrong and wrong - just because you cant see the rebar from a picture taken 200 yards away...

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

MDB, I suspect your funding will soon be cut if you don't step up your hilarious trolling.

Angelo Misterioso's picture

That was SOME austerity we suffered under O'bamby - did he increase the national debt by 9 or 10 or 11 trillion? - i lost count....

Professorlocknload's picture

Record storms damage infrastructure. Deal with it.

dirtscratcher's picture

MDB: It wasn't conservatives who diverted $billions into a train to nowhere project while ignoring vital needs such as this. When was the last time conservatives were in power in California? The '80s I think.

What a Moron.

Lorca's Novena's picture

"He's Ba-ack"

*little girls voice


I agree MDB, we need to stop those filthy consrvatives from not dumping money into the programs that would prevent these disasters! The state politicos have proven time and time again that THEY know how to direct these funds! How dare anyone question the use of billions of dollars!

Gonzogal's picture

"cutting government funding for critical projects, which puts thousands of peoples’ lives in danger"


If the US government, for example under OBOMBER, would STOP spending BILLIONS if not TRILLIONS on regime change wars around the world without a word of uproar from its citizens, maybe the USG could have invested in its own infrastructure, and saved not only the lives of its own citizens but the lives of millions around the world!!!  BLAME YOURSELVES!

Muddy1's picture

Next we will be told that noone saw the looting that would happen and is happening because of the hasty departure of many people.


We will aso see how well FEMA handles this and how well they handle setting up their FEMA camps.  If it is a repeat of what happened in New Orleans then expect ALL of the blame to rest on Trump.  It will be, "BLAME BUSH ver. 2.0"

Muddy1's picture

WELL, WELL, WELL......   According to this article an attempt was made to fix the problem in 2005.  Nothing was done.  Well now, who was the President of the United states in 2005?  Yep, George W. Bush.  Now the finger pointers, and blame gamers have the perfect target for assigning blame.  As I stated above.

See the first two paragraphs:  http://www.mercurynews.com/2017/02/12/oroville-dam-feds-and-state-officials-ignored-warnings-12-years-ago/

nashville2's picture

This is what happens in the land of fruits and nuts when your vote count is not big enough to compete with the smelt huggers.

detached.amusement's picture

That article is misdirection.  Their big stink was about the emergency spillover.  The main spillway is what was sabotaged, so the emergency one is a red herring.  So what if dubya didnt concrete that entire fkn hillside - it would not have been a problem if nobody blew up the spillway that was supposed to be used long before the emergency one ever came into action.

thatthingcanfly's picture

They would interview a guy named "Javier Santiago" to describe what it's like to flee one's home.

cledus52's picture

Feb 13/17

Jim Stone update:


There will be no more updates tonight because I have to get some sleep. Listen to the emergency personnel, this emergency is no hoax.


UPDATE: By opening the primary spillway to 115,000 cfs they drained the top foot and a half off the reservoir quickly and dropped the lake level to below the emergency spillway level. However, so much erosion happened that they don't know how far below that they need to go to get the water to stop flowing around the emergency spillway through an erosion breach. THEY HAVE NOT GIVEN THE ALL CLEAR, but it might be getting better, my guess.

They decided to sacrifice what's left of the main spillway to stop a catastrophic failure elsewhere. That won't last, more rain is coming and record snow is there to melt.


There were a few readers who said I reported about the dam too much. I kept on it, because I strongly believe the spillway failure was sabotage. And I did not think they would sabotage the spillway unless they had run endless 3d modeling proving an absolute failure would result. I was confident this failure was the end result of careful modeling and sabotage to make it happen, but did not say it because it sounded too "out there".

And now, TOO BAD, I'D RATHER BE WRONG but now the emergency spillway is failing also, because it is just too much water to run over a damaged dam. I believe communists in California's government blew the primary spillway up with explosives. After that, nature would finish the catastrophe. And I believe they carefully planned this out fully, complete with ground penetrating radar scans to prove there would be a horrible end result. That is the type of people that are running California now, I would not put this one inch past them.

Whatever happens now all depends upon how strong the rock in the mountain is that all of this water is going to flow over if the emergency spillway does give out completely. Hopefully we will only lose the top 50 feet of water, and not all 770 feet of it. The dam report will be updated regularly in the embedded window.


Blankone's picture

Yes, Jim Stone claimed and claims the dam itself is going to fail and that this is due to sabotage and the main spillway was bombed.

Perhaps Stone could expand upon that and tell us the mechanism for this to cause the main dam to fail.  Why did they bomb the main spillway far below the gates.

What is nice is that Jim Stone has committed and either the dam itself goes or he is finally discredited (by himself).

I also expect he took down his own network to make it look like his news outlet was attacked.  But who knows.

detached.amusement's picture

He didnt say the dam itself was going to fail, he did say that the emergency spillover could potentially catastrophically fail - not quite the same thing.  I dont think anyone that's remotely informed about the situation is saying the dam might fail, there appears to be mountainous bedrock in between the primary spillover and the dam area.

Mr. Universe's picture

I hate to even think of that scenerio, but I already have. It is exactly the kind of disaster they need to push their latest water project that had no real traction until, now.

PennilessPauper's picture

Apparently the truth was to much for someone to handle so his site address was removed from the DNS servers.  You can bypass the compromised DNS servers by copying and pasting the IP into your web browser.



detached.amusement's picture

jim fixed that on his end, he used dns for his update window.  (its working, so he probably just got rid of dns usage.)


he says dns is now working anyway, most people that link to his shit know IP is ol reliable

Blackfox's picture

Funny how you have no money to fix your dams America but you have $38 billion spare for Israel - Who runs barter town......

WillyGroper's picture

fits the patterns of George Webb's vids on jttf/Haiti.

herding the sheep to take the land.

i have no doubt folks are going to go missing & be harvested.

Whoa Dammit's picture

The people in charge of this are just crazy. They could have fixed the main spillway at the time of the initial damage which was described as the size of a pothole. But no, that was too much effort on their part. Instead they made almost 200,000 people evacuate with no prior notice on a Sunday afternoon. 

Chris Dakota's picture
Chris Dakota (not verified) Whoa Dammit Feb 13, 2017 8:50 AM

12 yrs ago the State of CA and Fed gov ignored the request for concrete on the emergency spillway.

Arnold, paging Arnold

And George Bush who was too busy destroying Iraq.

Also the NY Times that sold us that bogus war.

What about shovel ready projects too?