Monday, February 13, 2017

Oroville Dam Crisis

Around 60 miles south of our home in Red Bluff is the giant Oroville Dam.  This rock and concrete dam is the tallest in the United States.   This dam is the cornerstore of the California Feather River Project beginning in the 1960's.

We have experienced very heavy rainfall in our Red Bluff area since November.  In the mountains to the east of our home (Lassen and Shasta to the north east; and the Northern Sierra and Feather River to the southeast), they are all covered with more than average snow down to 3,500'.  The wooded western foothills of these mountains have all experienced tremendous rainfall since November.  We have friends in these foothill areas (e.g., Grass Valley) talking to us about the violent winds and rainstorms this winter.  Friends living right on the Sacramento River in Red Bluff are very anxious about the rising river waters.

The Yolly Bolly mountains to the west drain mostly west to the Pacific, and are of little concern. However a few rivers draining east to the Sacramento River, like Cottonwood Creek, 20 miles north of Red Bluff, are over normal capacity.

Red Bluff, and all the towns 130 miles to the south to the city of Sacramento, are located in a valley. We are all downhill from water.

Shasta Dam, 50 miles to the north of us, also creates a massive reservoir of fresh water.

As I write, over 200,000 people have been evacuated south of the Oroville Dam.  Everyone fears that a breach in the Oroville Dam's spillway could send a wall of water 30 feet high bursting out of the dam.

Most of the devastation from a potential Oroville Dam spillway failure would be south of the dam - downhill.  However, such a disaster would also back up the Sacramento River (4 miles east of our home), and would increase flooding in our area.

Wait and worry!

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