Lake Oroville Nearing Spillway Level

By Anthony Watts – Re-Blogged From WUWT

After heavy winter storms, the water level stands just two feet below the new spillway gates – will it work?

When the #CampFire occurred, one of the very best tools out there on the web for tracking progress of the fire came from Peter Hansen, at Chico State University. Now he has a new interactive tool he has shared with me for use in monitoring the level of Lake Oroville as it fills and approaches the top.

Click image for the interactive tool

You can click the image above to open the interactive tool in a new browser tab.

California’s Department of Water resources provides tabular data, but no comparative visualizations. This interactive tool shows the the five most important variables that most people are interested in monitoring:

With a “full at the top” elevation of 900 feet, the interactive graph also displays the two most important benchmarks:

Right now, as of noon PST today, the lake level is at 810.84 feet, just 2.7 feet from the spillway gates, and rising 2-3 feet daily. At that rate, it will only be less than a day before the new billion-dollar spillway can be used/tested. DWR says there is an 813.6 foot threshold for use, and that is indicated by the orange line in the graph above.

Construction crews work Thursday Feb 22nd near the Oroville Dam spillway in Oroville. The state Department of Water Resources does not expect to use the spillway anytime soon, but says it is preparing to have the new structure cleared if Lake Oroville reaches 780 feet elevation. (Matt Bates — Enterprise Record)

It will be another couple of weeks before the water level makes its way all the way to the top, where the emergency spillway will be used if that happens. Of course, DWR may increase releases, so that may not happen.

Photo showing the elevations and placements of the gates and emergency spillway. h/t to Twitter via Rob Carlmark‏ @rcarlmark

Back in early February, DWR said they don’t plan to use the spillway soon, but then later changed their story to say they were making preparations to do so if the water level exceeded 780 feet elevation. That’s already happened.

All eyes are on DWR. Will they, or won’t they?

Already, there are concerns:


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