[UPDATE 10:49 p.m.] Oroville Dam Spillway Failing; Evacuations Ordered as Far Away as Yuba City

According to the California Department of Water Resources have issued emergency evacuation orders as “Officials are anticipating a failure of the Auxiliary Spillway at Oroville Dam…Residents of Oroville should evacuate in a northward direction, toward Chico. Other cities should follow the orders of their local law enforcement.

The Butte County Sheriff warned,

Operation of the auxiliary spillway has lead to severe erosion that could lead to a failure of the structure. Failure of the auxiliary spillway structure will result in an uncontrolled release of flood waters from Lake Oroville.

In response to this developing situation, DWR is increasing water releases to 100,000 cubic feet per second.
Immediate evacuation from the low levels of Oroville and areas downstream is ordered.”

The Sacramento Bee is reporting that Marysville and Yuba City are under mandatory evacuation orders.

The Butte County Sheriff’s scanner indicates that there are multiple people who are incapacitated and unable to leave their homes. They are being put on what sounds like a long list.

Below is a photo of the spillway taken yesterday.


Here is a graphic put out by the National Weather Service showing possible route that the water will flow.

Graphic of possible flow from damaged spillway at Oroville dam

UPDATE 6:43 p.m.: This was posted on National Weather Service about 6:20 p.m.

UPDATE 6:48 p.m.: According to the above Butte County Sheriff speaking at the above press conference, “The erosion that caused all this concern is not advancing as rapidly as they thought.” He added, There is a plan in place to use helicopters to fill the hole in the auxiliary spillway.

UPDATE 6:50 p.m.:We have deputies and other emergency personnel notifying residents, The Butte Sheriff explained. “We recognize this has caused a significant problem.” Swift water teams are being mobilized, said the Cal Fire Spokesperson.

UPDATE 7:23 p.m.: The roads leading away from the evacuation areas are jammed.


UPDATE 8:16 p.m.: The stories on the scanner are heartbreaking. Two juveniles were found in the evacuation area. According to the deputy who found them “sleeping alongside the road,” they got separated from their parents during the evacuation.

UPDATE 8:40 p.m.: This is a tweet from a resident above the dam who posted this video about 7:45 p.m. This shows the bags of rocks being loaded for the helicopters that will be dropping them into the hole in the spillway.

UPDATE 9 p.m.: The National Weather Service shows in their map below the area in red around Oroville as a flash flood warning because of the issues with the dam spillway. The larger green area is due to regular warning that rainy weather earlier was causing some flooding along creeks and streams and in urban areas. 

National Weather Service map

UPDATE 9:02 p.m.: Butte County Sheriff said they are “evacuating the Butte County Jail, out of an abundance of caution.”

UPDATE 9:08 p.m.: A press conference will be held at 10 p.m.

UPDATE 9:12 p.m.: Want to help? You can donate at the North Valley Community Foundation. They have opened the Oroville Evacuation Fund. Donate here: nvcf.org/fund/oroville-evacuation-fund/ 

They say,

100% of all donations go directly to those affected by the crisis and those providing shelter. NVCF has been in touch with emergency shelters and is ready to assist with financial help. Join us as we respond to those in need. .

UPDATE 9:40 p.m.: According to numerous reports, the water has stopped going over the emergency spillway. This is good news. The bad news is that new storms are predicted to move in on Wednesday.

UPDATE 10:20 p.m.: The Butte County Sheriff has confirmed that the water has stopped flowing over the spillway. However, they need to analyse whether or not it is safe to bring residents back in.

UPDATE 10:38 p.m.: The Butte County Sheriff says he doesn’t know when the evacuations will be lifted.

UPDATE 10:49 p.m.: Governor Brown issued Emergency Order to Help Response to Situation at Oroville Dam. Click here to read it.



  • Nerve Wracking!

  • Honeydew Bridge Chump

    Dams don’t just get a dent in them..

    If the emergency spillway fails the entire dam will fail.

    California’s second largest water storage, flooding taking out orchards, rice crops, etc.

    Broadcastify has the Butte County SO and listening to it I’ll say it’s getting crazy.

    Men with rifles starting to loot, shots fired and someone run over with a car, etc.

    They are putting people on 99 which wouldn’t be a good place to be if it fails.

    This is major and just hours ago DWR said everything is fine, then said it’s going to fail in about an hour.

    It will flood past Sac.

    • Youre sure about this?!

    • hey chump, where would your all seeing eye send the Marines? should they use this disaster to sneak up on distracted terrorist growers. Ill take your thoughts off air…

      • You are one messed up dude. That peach you ate this morning? Guess what , it can from Yuba county. In a crisis people come together only sick mental person start attacking each other. I am sure you are one of the looters walking around there.

    • NO looting has been reported, that’s rumor. NO shootings have occurred. NO, the main dam itself is not failing, and NO waters will reach Sac. Stop spreading rumors. Get your info from State DWP or County Sherriff sites, not the Rumor mill. The main dam has NO damage.

      • Honeydew Bridge Chump

        You obviously didn’t listen to the scanner last night during the evacuation.
        A request came in for a major pedestrian injury after shots fired.
        Also a report of men with rifles in an area evacuated that the sheriff dept was too busy to handle.

        Listening to the evacuation gave great insight into what would happen during an event.

        The dam is holding, no more water spilling over the emergency spillway…

        It’s time to figure out why marijuana was behind this and discuss how to force growers to repair the dam, before they are deported.

        The ENTIRE country dodged a big hit on this, but there’s still woods ahead.

        It’s obvious that marijuana leads to dam failures and growers shouldn’t be allowed within 10,000 miles of a dam for everyone’s safety.

        • Ok, you’ve totally shaved off your troll fur with that one. Good run! Who will you be next? Let’s see…hmm…how about the user name ” regulationsare forourowngood?!

          • Honeydew Bridge Chump


            Honesty my opinion to fix the crevasse in the spillway is to pack it with growers. There’s enough to fill the gap.

            We’ll start with post y2k growers, should be enough there to repair the dam, and return communities to post green rush thug times.

            IMHO- Rod Deal would want post y2k growers used to repair the dam.

            • I agree with the y2k cutoff. How about just for good measure we include all who use anything but their own excrement or cover crops as fertilizers?

          • …Or, how about AlternativeFacter?

        • Honeydew CHUMP::The scanner traffic was WRONG. Per the County Sherriff there, The RUMOR of men with rifles got mentioned in error. No shots fired, no one run over, none of that. Stop it. Just stop scaring people who have families over there. I put up with your silly troll stuff at times, this ISNT the time. if you don’t have something confirmed, DONT SAY IT. I have family there. I take this seriously. Don’t piss me off, you don’t know me..

      • Seriously. These are people who have families worried about them and spreading rumors not based on fact is dangerous. Stop making natural disasters into political agendas.

    • You have no understanding of the structure of the dam. But thanks for the laugh.

  • I’ve been following it all day.
    They have .35 feet, or about 4 inches, to go before it quits going over the emergency spillway.
    This is going to be nothing, or very very wild.
    Here we go: DJ Trumps first National Emergency.

  • The Mercury News has a photo that shows what’s happening:
    The failing spillway is undermining the concrete lip at the top of the spillway, which may collapse, allowing the water to dump out of the dam as fast as the hole grows…

    • This last drought dried out the concrete so much. Looks like too much.

      • Mosul Dam in Iraq is failing and ready to go. Requires daily pumping of concrete and went at least 16 months without any. If it goes (most experts say, not “if” but “when”), the flood’ll be a tsunami that could kill over a million people.


        “Using antiquated pumps as large as truck engines, they drive enormous quantities of liquid cement into the earth. Since the dam opened, in 1984, engineers working in the gallery have pumped close to a hundred thousand tons of grout—an average of ten tons a day—into the voids below.”

        “A “tsunami-like wave” would rush through Mosul, carrying away everything in its path, including bodies, buildings, cars, unexploded bombs, hazardous chemicals, and human waste. The wave would almost certainly catch most of the people trying to outrun it. Residents of Mosul, scrambling on foot and by car through a citywide traffic jam, would need to travel at least three and a half miles to survive. In less than an hour, those who remained would be under as much as sixty feet of water.”

        “The wave, the Embassy’s report predicted, would move rapidly through the cities of Bayji, Tikrit, and Samarra, wiping out roads, power stations, and oil refineries; damage to the electrical grid would probably leave the entire country without power. At least two-thirds of Iraq’s wheat fields would be flooded.”

        “Within four days, the wave would reach Baghdad, depositing as much as sixteen feet of water in many areas of the city, probably including the airport and the Green Zone, the site of government buildings and most of the embassies. The report said the majority of the city’s six million residents would face Hurricane Katrina-like conditions: people forced from their homes, with limited or no mobility and no essential services.”

  • Loss of lifehomer

    I agree with Bridge Chump. State may be down playing how dangerous the situation really is. Saying it is only a spillway problem and when the dam breaks, let the finger pointing begin. A disaster bigger than 9/11.

    • The spillway isn’t anywhere near the dam, which is the the confusing part. The dam itself is not at risk… but what good is a dam if the hill next to it has an erosion canyon cutting through it. Imagine trying to build a bathtub, calling only one side a dam, then saying the dam is fine while the other parts fall off and all the water dumps out.

  • For f**ks sake, this is all the water for LA, we finally get enough of this precious resource and this is their only back up plan???? Wtf?
    No way to drain to storage tanks? Hell we could come set up lines to tanks in a few days.
    Never tested the overflow? Not used since built? They literally just washed a hillside down to the bedrock with all the debris going in the river.
    They better not come asking for our “extra” water in northern humboldt, where the state placed a rep on our north coast waterboard.

    God forbid we actually store water in our state, an open aqueduct next to a highway in an area with extreme heat all summer sounds much better. We use more electricity to move water around the state than for anything else, which is derived from river diverting hydro dams. Rain catchment tanks ought to be everywhere. Just ridiculous.
    I dont know why im surprised, our infrastucture is failing everywhere. Get ready for more as we get bigger and bigger storm seasons over the next few yearz, theyre comin!

    • Trumps going to shut down these insane enviro psychopath agencies and build more reservoirs. Regulation has prevented our resources to grow with the population, leaving us all brain-dead and up shit-creek.

      • Really? The orange billionaire and his oligarch cabinet are gonna ride in to save the day? The only thing they’re gonna deregulate is the thin line saving your ass at present. The Internet is still free. Better educate your [edit] self before it’s gone.

        • this cant be trumps fault can it, this problem must have been growing for years and who was in charge then I wonder. or was everything fine until jan 20th

          • No, it’s Trump’s fault. He denied Global Warming so the rains came back. We all need to believe in Global Warming to keep us safe! Keep the faith!

            • Ernie, you’re a smart guy and have been around a long time.
              There really is no good sense denying that our planet has been heating up a lot over the past 150 years, and heating up more and faster each year over the past decade.


              • Yes, Smart. But, unfortunately also a smart ass. My comment was deeply facetious and meant for humor.

                However, I might know more about ice than you would ever imagine. We are at the tail end of the Earth’s fifth (5th) ice age. For 85% of the Earth’s existence it has had NO ice. @ 1200ad the Earth was warm enough to sustain crops in Greenland. Then the earth went into the Mini-ice-age. The Norwegians that didn’t starve escaped back to the old world. 10,000 years ago the British Isles and much of North America was under ice. Most ice ages and global wam periods have been caused by volcanism and the related Co2 and dust, and meteor strikes

                The polar caps are going to melt in time no matter what we humans do. The only bone of contention is; are we speeding up global warming or are we superfluous. If we are not superfluous and are the big problem. Do we really want to change it? What are the consequences of messing with mother nature.

                Does pollution offend me? Yes it does. Why is America the only Country concerned about pollution? And why aren’t we talking about world population?

                And, just so you know, Yes I believe that there is Global Warming, but only Al Gore knows what causes it. (There I go again…)

      • Resources can’t grow. They are finite Only the population does

      • Maria Lopez- Trump wants LESS reservoirs, not more, he said there was too much regulation in the CA water business, and too much private land taken away for dams and lakes already. You should read up on your guy there…

    • You going to sifon 100k gps. Its to late.

    • SoCal cries for water, but has no way to store it when it shows up? Hard to feel bad for them. We’ve shared all we can spare.

    • The only “storage tank” you could drain a dam into would, hopefully unsurprisingly, be the size of a large lake. And your hoses the size of large rivers.

      The only way to test the emergency spillway would be to let the water level in the dam rise to overflowing. This has only happened now, due to a failure of the primary spillway – an emergency, resulting in the use of the emergency spillway.

      They’ve since opened the primary spillway to full flow, despite it being damaged, and are letting it destroy things, since it’s destroying things a bit further away from the dam lip. The hope is it will drain the water level to below the emergency spillway before it fails.

    • The confusion is that there is 2 spillways, the normal one, and the emergency one. They have tested, and used, the normal spillway a lot over the years. The emergency one never got tested. They both are damaged now, with the emergency one in the worst shape…I agree the Army Corps of Engineers or State DWP should have been inspecting and fixing the known issues with these long ago…

  • Ha ha ha, you say fill up some storage tanks….. this is not a backyard pool bud

  • Prey hoping all tempers stay tempered. And Flow prevails with the evac. And lot of peops got homes to get back to. Thought we had it bad!?!

  • At least a Ruth failure would only flush out the town of Mad River

  • Does anyone know if Yuba City is actually in danger? There was an evacuation issued for us, but it hasn’t been mentioned in any news updates in over an hour…

  • I would have left days ago. Scardycat.

  • This is a complete nightmare

  • FYI: Oroville Dam is an earthfill dam. 100,000 cfs is 750,000 gal/sec

    The emergency auxiliary spillway is earth. San Jose Mercury-News has best story and pictures on this.


    • Its also the highest dam in the nation @ aprox. 770 ft tall . If it fails it will send a 30 ft wall of water racing towards the valley. Bad for the people below not to mention an environmental nightmare.

    • You can see in the pictures that the main dam, and spillway structure, are Concrete, and not earth…Mathews dam at Ruth is “Earthfill” which means a big dirt and rock dam…

  • This is global warming at its prime folks. More extreme storms are just the tip of the melting ice berg, and Donald is going to make it much, much worse.

    • because it never rained before trump came to office on jan 20th did it.

      • Your statement makes no sense. We were in a drought, last 8 yrs or more. Now it will be the extreme oppoosite. It’s a lil somthing called climate change and it was happening long before 8yrs ago to now.

    • Maybe it’s all those melting snowflakes in CA causing water levels to rise – not global warming. Global warming forecast drought for CA, not rain, hmm…

      Not sure DJT has as much influence on climate as you think. I’ve a sneaking suspicion the sun might be involved….crazy thought!

    • Have you ever heard of the great floods of the 1860s in California-Sacramento? If not you should look them up and read about them, you might learn that this kind of weather event was happening long before internal combustion engines were widely used.

      Of course maybe it was all the buffalo, before the white people wipe them out causing global warming with their flatulence.

    • Global warming and human-wrought climate change is real, however this sort of storm pattern isn’t necessarily part of climate change. California has experienced this sort of storm pattern many times in the past and many times pre-industrial age.

  • If you click on the first picture it opens up a Facebook page with 33 larger pictures to see.

    • Thanks Ben, the photos are impressive and informative.

      • Friends that got out last night said the night sky appeared blue due to all of the mist in the air, the air shimmery like on a hot, muggy day. They could feel the rumble of the water cascading over the regular and emergency spillway, coming up through the bottom of the car.

  • They had a chance to back fill the spillway hole when they did the initial shut off but decided to continue to ” see what would happen”
    THAT would have been the time to Back fill w boulders and rocks. Whatever.

  • Butte sheriff said “no threat” 48 hours ago !! Job opening!!!!

  • Honeydew Bridge Chump

    Whatever happens this isn’t going to be an easy fix and the wet season marches on.

    I blame the lazy, Calper trash that should have been working on it during the drought.

    Typical, lazy, union work ethics…

    There’s a bunch of farmland at stake and people are gambling on options….

  • Concrete has a shelf life of 40 years. The damn was built in the 1960s.

    We don’t repair infrastructure because the banks are taking our $$,
    entitled corrupt lazy government bureaucrats have huge salaries and
    Obummer et all raised the debt trillions of dollars bombing civilians in the middle east!

  • Kym, this coverage is super! Thanks for all your hard work, keeping us abreast.

    J.Q. Public , if you like your non elected Regional Water Boards, you can keep it. If you hate your non elected Regional Water Boards, that’s just too bad.
    Or is it?
    Only you can prevent non elected boards managing your resources, your life. Man the phones.

  • Lots and lots of water. 50 years since that much water down that spill way. That hole is 200ft long and 50ft. Deep.thats pretty yuge!!! It was throwing chunks of concrete up in the air. Those houses are pretty close to the spill off. Glad everyone is ok. Their sure is a lot of damage everywhere. Lots of work for folks!!✌

  • Poster formerly known as Matt

    The Mercury News, a local newspaper, reported that three environmental groups — the Friends of the River, the Sierra Club and the South Yuba Citizens League — filed a motion with the federal government in 2005 as part of the Oroville Dam’s relicensing process, urging federal officials to bolster the dam’s emergency spillway.

    In that motion, the groups warned that the dam did not meet modern safety standards, The Mercury News reported.

    The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission rejected their request after state agencies determined the refurbishment an unnecessary expense, the paper said.

    ABC News reached out to the FERC for a comment about the 2005 motion but did not immediately receive a response.

  • Don’t worry, we have California’s highest ranking gay politician working on plugging the hole. Just keep funding the pension gap, that’s all that matters! Onward and upward!

    • You’d like El Paso.
      There’s no dams that can break in El Paso. Also, no gays for you to hate. And, as an added bonus, they also like the Lucifer, Cheney, and Trump Administration! And they are almost as smart as Sarah Palin- so you’d fit right in!

  • Honeydew Bridge Chump

    We need to devise a plan that uses growers to fill in the gaps in the dam.

    Seeing as it’s documented, I posted about the dam issue first, it shows that non grower, non weed smoking, non drug using rednecks that do not like mutants- educate you stoned muppets.

    There is no logical reason why growers can’t live The Highwayman song about slipping into wet concrete.

    Grower free California is a place to raise children…..

    • Honeydue chump, why do you hate cannabis growers so much? Maybe one of them ran away with your wife and thats why you have to spread bullshit propaganda all over the internet and bring a completley unrelated topic into it. Why dont you smoke a joint and find something more relevant to put all your hateful energy into.

  • cracks were found and reviewed in 2013 by state officials. Nothing was done to resolve/repair the damage? Who was that idiot(s) who caused now this costly calamity? “Oh, we won’t ever have water come over the spillway! It’ll never happen!!! ” Boy should those engineers/officals have their heads rolls down the spillway! The glorious commie state shows its colors and stupidity!!!

  • After all this dialogue from 9-10 months ago (and way too much of the commentary above is erroneous and/or irrelevant), I am still concerned about the seismic integrity of the Oroville Dam. Anyone ever read the story of the Johnstown Flood? It’s a horrible, semi-fictional story from an actual event. Granted, it was over 100 years ago… and it was in Pennsylvania… and it was an earthen dam but the same human attitudes exist, thinking “well, it couldn’t happen here”. My fingers are crossed…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *