California: 200,000 under evacuation order as Oroville Dam teeters

California: 200,000 under evacuation order as Oroville Dam teeters
Oroville Dam spillway, 13 Feb 2017. (Image: Screen grab of KCRA 3 video, YouTube)

[Ed. – The situation is fluid.  Engineers are shoring up the spillway, and the overflow has receded for now.  But a new round of heavy snow and intense rain is forecast to start on Friday.  It appears the evacuation decision will continue to be an hour-to-hour thing.]

Nearly 200,000 people remained under evacuation orders Monday as California authorities try to fix erosion of the emergency spillway at the nation’s tallest dam that could unleash uncontrolled flood waters if it fails.

About 150 miles northeast of San Francisco, Lake Oroville — one of California’s largest man-made lakes — had water levels so high that an emergency spillway was used Saturday for the first time in almost 50 years.

The evacuation was ordered Sunday afternoon after engineers spotted a hole on the concrete lip of the secondary spillway for the 770-foot-tall Oroville Dam and told authorities that it could fail within the hour. …

State Fire and Rescue Chief Kim Zagaris said at least 250 law enforcement officers from throughout the state are in the area or on their way to help with the evacuation.

Late Sunday, officials said the evacuation orders remained in place despite the fact water was no longer spilling over the eroded area.

“There is still a lot of unknowns,” Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said at a news conference.

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