See the risky flooding at Oroville Dam for yourself

Posted February 16, 2017

Engineers don't know what caused the cave-in, but Chris Orrock, a spokesman for the state Department of Water Resources, said it appears the dam's main spillway has stopped crumbling even though it's being used for water releases.

The city of Oroville is empty after an evacuation was ordered for communities downstream from the Lake Oroville Dam, in Oroville, California.

But the fast-moving water also started breaking down the emergency spillway causing it to overflow.

The worst may be over on Monday for the almost 200,000 residents ordered to be evacuated from a California region threatened by an inundated lake held up by a dam with a damaged emergency spillway meant to ease the pressure.

Hotels around the dam - the emergency spillway of which officials anxious might break Sunday, sending a 30-foot wall of water cascading into the communities below - have largely booked up.

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"We have concluded it is safe to reduce the emergency evacuation order to an evacuation warning", said Honea, who had made the initial call Sunday to evacuate a large swath of three counties below the imperiled dam. Serious erosion developed on the dam's primary spillway on Tuesday, Feb. 7.

Most of the major reservoirs in California are now above average, according to the California Department of Water Resources, because of plentiful rain and snow.

Lake Oroville is one of California's largest man-made lakes, and the dam is 335-metres tall.

The groups said rocks and other debris could be swept into the river, damaging highway bridges and power plants downstream.

More than 180,000 residents in northern California have been ordered to evacuate their homes over fears that America's tallest dam is about to collapse.

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California Department of Water Resources personnel monitor water flowing through a damaged spillway on the Oroville Dam in Oroville, California, US, on February 10, 2017. Jerry Brown issued an emergency order to fortify authorities' response to the emergency at the dam and help with evacuations.

The dam filled to capacity for the first time in its 50-year-history following weeks of heavy rain. Failure of the auxiliary spillway structure will result in an uncontrolled release of flood waters from Lake Oroville.

Maps shared on Twitter show areas that would be affected if the spillway collapses and torrents of water gush out.

The DWR instructed Oroville residents to head north, toward Chico.

The water levels have since receded, but not to the point to rescind the evacuation order. Rain is expected to begin falling later this week and continue through Saturday and Sunday.

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