The emergency evacuation of residents living below the Oroville Dam was ended yesterday, however Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea stressed today that an evacuation warning was still in place for the region below the dam and encouraged people to sign up for a notification system in case another evacuation was issued.
Bill Croyle, the acting director of the California Department of Water Resources told reporters today that the dam is still releasing 100,000 cubic feet per second in an attempt to lower the water level before three new storms hit the watershed over the next week. From the Associated Press:
The three storms were expected to stretch into next week. Forecasters said the first two storms could drop a total of 5 inches of rain in higher elevation.
However, the third storm, starting as early as Monday, could be more powerful…
“We shouldn’t see a bump in the reservoir” from the upcoming storms, [Croyle] said.
The reservoir has dropped 20 feet since it reached capacity Sunday. Croyle said officials hope it falls 50 feet by this Sunday.
In a press conference today, Croyle said the heavily damaged main spillway appears to be stable given the current flow. Damage to the emergency spillway, which prompted the evacuation order, has been repaired by a round-the-clock operation involving helicopters, dump trucks and concrete trucks. Coyle said the repair was placing, “1,200 tons of material in the spillway per hour.”
If the projections for coming storms turn out to be accurate then the water of the lake behind the dam should continue to fall, meaning will remain dozens of feet below the level of the emergency spillway. The concern is that the storms could dump more water than anticipated. After five years of severe drought, California is having a record wet season which has ended the drought conditions in the northern half of the state and significantly reduced them in the southern half.
The AP published raw video of the Feather River which is running historically high because of the massive release of water from the dam: