Evacuations downgraded to warning:
- Oroville Area: Downtown Oroville and Thermalito, the areas south of Lincoln Boulevard on the west side of Lincoln to Ophir Road.
- All low-lying areas around the Feather River, which includes Gridley, Biggs, Yuba City, Loma Rica, and anywhere south of Butte County along the River. We will provide more specific information later.
- All jurisdictions of Yuba County and Sutter County
The National Weather Service in Sacramento has downgraded the flash flood warning to a flash flood watch for the Auxiliary Spillway of Oroville Dam in Butte County.
The watch will remain in place until the situation changes.
UPDATE Feb. 15, 8:04 a.m.: Engineers at Lake Oroville say the emergency situation at the dam's spillway complex is improving by the hour.
The lake level is dropping roughly eight feet a day while crews work to fill an erosion hole near the emergency spillway with boulders and concrete.
Department of Water Resources spokesman Bill Croyle says a series of storms headed into Northern California are not cause for concern at this point.
"With the snow level dropping from about 6,000 to 4,000, which will help us, and these high flow rates, that will make more storage and the next four storms should not threaten, really approaching any kind of a threat toward the emergency spillway," says Croyle.
Croyle says work on the damaged spillways will extend well beyond the emergency period.
Nearly 200,000 downstream from the Oroville Dam were told Tuesday they can return home.
An evacuation warning is now in place, so should conditions change residents may be asked to leave again.
-Randol White / Capital Public Radio
UPDATE 3:20 p.m.: Nearly 200,000 residents directly downstream from the Oroville Dam can now return to their evacuated communities.
Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea downgraded the evacuation order to a warning this afternoon.
He says the move allows people to head home.
"But, we're telling them that they have to be vigilant, they have to pay attention to what's going on, and there is the prospect that we could issue another evacuation order if the circumstances change and the risk increases," he says.
Residents were told to evacuate Sunday when Lake Oroville officials determined the emergency spillway had the potential to fail.
Since then, lake levels have dropped well below the structure and crews have been working to fill a pocket of erosion near the emergency spillway with boulders and concrete.
-Randol White / Capital Public Radio
UPDATE 1:58 p.m.: Officials say there is no longer a mandatory evacuation order for communities near the Oroville Dam. They are instead reducing that order to an evacuation warning.
Officials say that means residents returning home should remain vigilant. Future evacuation orders could be issued if the current situation at the spillway changes.
As many as 200,000 residents were displaced due to the initial order issued this past Sunday.
-Capital Public Radio Staff
UPDATE 12:20 p.m.: White House spokesman Sean Spicer says President Donald Trump is keeping a "close eye" on the public safety crisis caused by a damaged Northern California dam.
Some 200,000 residents have been ordered evacuated after officials feared a spillway at the country's tallest dam was in danger of imminent failure. Water levels in the lake behind Oroville Dam have since receded, lessening the danger of catastrophic flooding downstream. But the evacuation order remains in place.
Spicer said at a Washington press conference that the president is in contact with state officials and working with federal disaster relief agencies.
Spicer said it's an example of why Congress needs to pass major infrastructure upgrades for the country.
The Associated Press
Update 10:30 a.m.: The state Department of Water Resources says water is continuing to flow out of Lake Oroville at 100,000 cubic feet per second.
The lake is now at 888.7 feet and is dropping at three to four inches per hour.
Crews placing material to stabilize the erosion https://t.co/YV9VgwyhO7— CA - DWR (@CA_DWR) February 14, 2017
Main #OrovilleSpillway flowing at 100,000 CFS. Lake level 888.7' and dropping at 3-4 inches per hour.— CA - DWR (@CA_DWR) February 14, 2017
As of 9 a.m. 2/14: DWR reinforcing aux spillway. Reservoir decreasing & projected capacity to absorb inflows due to upcoming storm.— County of Sutter (@CountyofSutter) February 14, 2017
Update 8 a.m.: Engineers at Lake Oroville are working to drop the reservoir's surface level by 50 feet in the coming days. The Department of Water Resources says that could take up to two weeks or longer depending on future weather conditions. Nearly 200,000 people are currently part of an emergency evacuation downstream from an eroding pair of spillways adjacent to Oroville Dam.
Republican Congressman Doug LaMalfa's district includes a large portion of the affected area. He says the immediate goal is to get through this crisis without any loss of life or undue harm.
"But also to immediately, when this is over with, to move forward and restore the function of the spillway and the dam because we'll have until next November to have something that works depending on what next year's rainfall's going to be," says LaMalfa.
The surface level at California's second-largest reservoir has fallen below the height of the emergency spillway Monday night. This gives engineers time to assess the situation and come up with possible emergency fixes. Roughly 100,000 cubic feet of water per second is being sent over the primary spillway, that began showing major signs of erosion last Tuesday.
The state Department of Water Resources says the clarity of the water coming down the base of that chute shows the rate of erosion has slowed.
-Randol White / Capital Public Radio
Update 7 a.m.: Lake Oroville, already central to the life of surrounding communities, has now become all-important. Nearly 200,000 people are still out of their homes because of fear the lake will breach its banks and unleash a wall of water because of an overtaxed dam system.
Public agencies are working hard to shore up an eroded spillway before another storm comes. Meanwhile, Gov. Jerry Brown says he wasn't previously aware of a report that surfaced yesterday indicating environmentalists raised concerns about the Oroville Dam emergency spillway in 2005.
Those concerns, filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, show three advocacy groups said using the emergency spillway on the tallest U.S. dam would cause significant erosion. The groups warned of a failure of the dam itself that would threaten lives and property. In 2008, state officials said no "significant concerns" about the spillway's integrity had been raised in any government or independent review.
-The Associated Press
Original Post: California authorities say an evacuation order issued Sunday for nearly 200,000 people will remain in place until repairs are made to the spillway system of Lake Oroville, about 70 miles north of Sacramento.
Helicopters are being used to drop giant rock-filled bags into a hole in the Oroville Dam emergency spillway. A failure could send a 30-foot wall of water gushing toward the Feather River.
Gov. Jerry Brown has sent a letter to President Donald Trump requesting further federal aid for the Oroville Dam emergency. Contrary to Trump's earlier statements about withholding aid from California, the federal government's Army Corps of Engineers is already helping respond to the Oroville Dam crisis. And Brown seemed optimistic that his request for further assistance would be granted. He says he spoke with one of Trump's "recently confirmed" cabinet members Monday, though he wouldn't say which member.
In his letter to the president, Brown says the number of evacuees in shelters on Sunday night was more than 3,200 people and the number is expected to rise. He has requested federal assistance for 10,000 evacuees in Butte, Sutter and Yuba counties. He says California has had more than a dozen disasters in the past year, including several devastating wildfires. And these events have significantly drained California's own financial ability to respond.
Meanwhile, the governor says he wasn't previously aware of a report that surfaced yesterday indicating environmentalists raised concerns about the Oroville Dam emergency spillway in 2005. Brown says he's glad he found out about the report and adds that it was not part of previous records he had seen.
The 2005 motion filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission shows three advocacy groups said using the emergency spillway on the tallest U.S. dam would cause significant erosion. The groups warned of a failure of the dam itself that would threaten lives and property. State officials said in 2008 no "significant concerns" about the spillway's integrity had been raised in any government or independent review.
-Sally Schilling / Capital Public Radio
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