WATCH LIVE – Oroville spillway will open its gates for the first time since the catastrophe

The Lake Oroville dam spillway is supposed to open at 11AM local time (Pacific Time) today. according to reports from the California Department of Water Resources. We have two live cams available for you to watch as the event unfolds.

Readers will surely recall that in January 2017, the spillway collapsed due to a lack of maintenance by DWR, during a strong atmospheric river event that soaked northern California.

Click the images or links to get the live cameras.

Top of the spillway camera

Bottom of the spillway camera

h/t to Eric Nielsen

UPDATE: 11:20AM PT – It appears the WUWT announcement has overwhelmed the cameras, probably because DWR didn’t plan for the interest and buffer the demand properly with a streaming service.

I was able to make one screencap before the camera stream stopped.

Oroville Spillway – first operation 4/2/19 11:30AM PT

Also there’s this interactive graph, that shows the lake levels.

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April 2, 2019 10:23 am

The webcam has been off every time I look!

Bryan A
Reply to  mariolento
April 2, 2019 4:58 pm

Looks like it is back now

Tom Walsh
Reply to  mariolento
April 3, 2019 11:04 am

April 2, 2019 10:23 am

11AM local time (PST) today
we are on PDT…

Reply to  Leif Svalgaard
April 2, 2019 10:26 am

Thank you Leif… If I had read this (to open 11am…), I would have refrained from my post!

Yep, PST is a mistake as it is now PDT… 🙂

Spalding Craft
Reply to  Anthony Watts
April 2, 2019 6:19 pm

Very cool. Thanks

Any issue with dam not containing the lake?

April 2, 2019 10:31 am

Did we slashdot their camera?

Joel O'Bryan
April 2, 2019 10:43 am

The operators appear to have maxed out the outflow through the power plant.
With rain and snow now and continuing through Wednesday…
Water level is at 854 feet as of 8am 2 April which is 47 feet below the emergency spillway, and rising about 1 ft/day even with max power flow release.

So Good decision to stay ahead of the coming rapid snow melt.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
April 2, 2019 3:11 pm

It is less a decision made than following the operating plan. In large operated dams (my experience following US Army COE dams, I assume CA DNR dams would be the same) the operating plan is adopted and has the force of law equivalent to any regulation. This protects the operating agency from suit, as for example the floods along the Missouri in 2011: the Corps followed the operating plan but could not restrain the flood.

In most dams that include flood control as a justification there is an operating elevation at which the operators match the inflow and outflow with a limit on the outflow to prevent flooding. The volume of the reservoir above that is reserved for flood control: if the release cannot be made without flooding, the excess water gets stored in the flood control volume. (There are other considerations in the discharge from Oroville, different limits for differing conditions but this is complicated enough already)

In the case of Oroville, that level now varies according to the moisture condition upstream and the time of year: the water elevation under current conditions per the operating plan appears to now be 854. Depending on moisture conditions the elevation at Oroville can vary from 838 to 870. Under the old operating plan it was a fixed elevation of 848. The modification was made to finally account for dams that were planned but not built.

The operating plan was developed by modelling according to the design flood from the original design and interpolations from that. I would like to have seen more modelling and some reconsideration of the design flood but perhaps that is what they could do with the time they had.

J Mac
April 2, 2019 10:45 am

Looks quite rainy…. for a permadrought!

Reply to  J Mac
April 2, 2019 11:07 am

How DARE you question Jerry’s AUTHORITUY!! 97% of all federally and state funded climatologists agree … CA is STILL in THE WORST DROUGHT IN THE HISTORY OF THE STATE. Quick … call up some drought pictures of an intentionally-drained Folsom Lake. That’ll explain it for all the community college graduate “journalists”. They are really good at copying and pasting propaganda. We should all cherish Dear Leader Jerry. He carrrrreeeeeeed about CA. Cared-enough to admit and care for 10million new illegal resource-users.

Reply to  J Mac
April 2, 2019 3:30 pm

They should clean the lens off. It has water droplets on it – I assume from the ’80s, when the drought was not yet in full effect.

April 2, 2019 10:50 am

Many onlookers in yellow rain gear waiting for the opening.

April 2, 2019 10:51 am

Just opened.

April 2, 2019 11:00 am

Only blacked out video…

Reply to  mariolento
April 2, 2019 11:45 am

That’s ok, the Californica Grizzly on the state flag, etc. has been extinct for roughly 150 years.

April 2, 2019 11:00 am

It was on for a few seconds around the opening-up. Pretty spectacular….then offline again.

April 2, 2019 11:01 am

Yah, it has been ~slashdotted~. No flow on the Streaming.

Reply to  GoatGuy
April 2, 2019 11:12 am

“This live event is over”. Huh? Mine never started!

Ron Long
April 2, 2019 11:04 am

What kind of fake-out nonsense is this? I just got back from a five hour Nature Walk (interrupted by occasionally whacking a golf ball) and clicked on the live cams. Nothing. I was hoping for catastrophe but nothing. All of that record Sierra Nevada snowpack getting ready to assault looney Californians and nothing. I need a drink (not related to my golf results).

Reply to  Ron Long
April 2, 2019 11:11 am

It was a gorgeous, warm, weekend here in N.CA … top-down weather all weekend. I even got a little sweaty. Here comes the AGUA!! The snowmelt is gonna be EPIC this year. Class 5 rafting on every river all summer. NOTE: Beginners stay OUT of the rivers and streams. There’s gonna be a lot of drownings this year. Be SAFE!

Louis Hooffstetter
Reply to  kenji
April 2, 2019 1:10 pm

It snowed here is SC yesterday (4/1) and today (4/2).
We’ve had a relatively warm winter, but a cool, late spring.

Reply to  Louis Hooffstetter
April 2, 2019 3:36 pm

I hate to ask… South Carolina? Southern California? Southern China? OK, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the latter, but I am confused about the first two.

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  Louis Hooffstetter
April 2, 2019 5:08 pm

We didn’t get any precip, but here in NJ this morning it was 24°F.

Spalding Craft
Reply to  D. J. Hawkins
April 2, 2019 6:27 pm

Pretty sure it’s South Carolina. It also snowed across the border in NC.

April 2, 2019 11:10 am

The cameras seem to be permanently offline. Good enough for governement work I suppose….

April 2, 2019 11:13 am

I saw top and bottom camera streaming live for a few seconds at 11:03…looks like it worked for a few seconds.
Then just buffered and went to black.

April 2, 2019 11:23 am

Notice: The Lake Oroville SRA webcam’s may be offline at times due to issues related to the repair of the webcam’s network connection.

Hocus Locus
Reply to  a_scientist
April 3, 2019 12:33 am

Someone tripped over the wireless

Greg S.
April 2, 2019 11:25 am

blancolirio is livestreaming the event right now

Reply to  Greg S.
April 2, 2019 12:29 pm

His coverage has been by far the best. 🙂

Pete Weedon
Reply to  Don
April 2, 2019 1:34 pm

I agree.

James Bull
Reply to  Don
April 3, 2019 12:13 am

Liked some of his comments about the main stream media only wanting disasters and the bad side of things and when the spillway didn’t fall apart they pushed off to find the next thing they can report as a bad.
It must wind them up big time having people who understand or are willing to listen and learn about things and making that available to the public.

James Bull

April 2, 2019 11:25 am

It’s 11:24 and I’ve been watching this for several minutes. It’s a GO.

Reply to  Hunter
April 2, 2019 11:30 am

Hmmm looking up from the bottom, I think there is water leaking behind the vertical containment wall. Maybe they are testing whether they can wash the whole darned thing out again !

Reply to  Hunter
April 3, 2019 12:58 am

Plastic spread on the ground prior to backfill.

April 2, 2019 11:28 am
April 2, 2019 11:48 am

I’m sure the locals downstream won’t mind about the video outage! /sarc

April 2, 2019 11:50 am

Call it the Jerry Brown Spillway of Permanent Drought Policy Crusades.

April 2, 2019 12:17 pm

Yes–there is no point paddling any river at flood, in any kind of a canoe, kayak or raft.
When the eddies are in the trees.
Mainly paddled a number of WW canoes and then when the knees couldn’t take it anymore went to a kayak.
One time in paddling downstream from a hydro-dam the rapids, although 2.5 to 3, did not seem right.
Asked one the local guys and the explanation was that the water was different after they had taken the electricity out of it.

David L Hagen
April 2, 2019 2:25 pm

“The Oroville Dam main spillway is being used for the first time since repairs were made” KCRA News 39 min video

Reply to  David L Hagen
April 2, 2019 2:39 pm

It is interesting that the flow splits in to waves or surges. It appears to happen in the area where the spillway steepens, though we do not see the area above that. In this portion of the spillway the velocity of the water accelerates from the 50 ft per second rage to the 150 ft per second range, if I remember my calculations from months ago correctly.

Michael Jankowski
Reply to  Chris4692
April 2, 2019 3:01 pm

It would be very interesting that the flow splits, because that would violate the continuity equation. The change in velocity is accompanied by a change in cross-sectional area (and/or density, but water is usually treated as incompressible) such that mass is conserved.

Reply to  Michael Jankowski
April 2, 2019 4:51 pm

Yet it does, per the video.
please explain, if you can,

Dan Hawkins
Reply to  Chris4692
April 2, 2019 6:45 pm

Not attempting to explain at all, but I know that automobile traffic on an open road mimics the behavior of the water that you see in the video. I will bet that traffic engineers and hydraulic engineers consult each other about this.

Reply to  Chris4692
April 2, 2019 9:49 pm

They are called hydraulic jumps, and very commonly occur where water flows down a steep surface.

Reply to  Chris4692
April 3, 2019 1:42 pm

I suspect the reason why the water forms those rollers is similar to the reason why buses tend come in threes. (You wait for half an hour and then three turn-up at once)

Steven Fraser
April 2, 2019 3:23 pm

Just checked, both seem working.q

April 2, 2019 4:46 pm

Wow, pretty impressive video!! Makes me wonder…

How much water going to the ocean rather than being saved for the (next) drought?

How much electricity not being generated because water is going down spillway rather than through turbines?

How much of that most powerful GHG dihydrogen monoxide is being generated with the mist at base of spillway?

April 2, 2019 4:55 pm

Too bad California has neglected or refused the infrastructure needed to take advantage of this season’s heavy rains to prepare for the next drought. On the long list of reasons to leave.

Larry Faria
Reply to  Lyzzz
April 2, 2019 6:58 pm

Existing dams run by the state hold over 15 million acre feet. California’s 40 million people use less than ten million, and a significant chunk of that is provided by local and regional water agencies operating their own dams.

The droughts are agricultural, but farmers would rather deplete groundwater supplies than pay for the infrastructure that would benefit them. They prefer people pay for it, and the state forces cities to ration water to convince people they should pay.

April 2, 2019 5:05 pm

If it’s all been fixed why the dirty water bottom left

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  Robertfromoz
April 2, 2019 5:15 pm

Kicking up the junk that’s settled in there over the last year.

Spalding Craft
April 2, 2019 6:31 pm

Pretty sure it’s South Carolina. It also snowed across the border in NC.

April 2, 2019 10:51 pm

Look at the 7 day snow forecast. What an incredible spring for rain/snow in Northern California, …

Reply to  goldminor
April 5, 2019 7:35 am

That’s for Spain, not California.

Johann Wundersamer
April 4, 2019 3:00 pm

Obama’s heritage. Operating again. +++

April 4, 2019 5:53 pm

Seems like the spillway has been running for about two days now.
I wonder how long the engineers will let it run before they check their work ??
I might give it another day or two before shutting it down and inspecting it top to bottom.

April 5, 2019 7:35 am

Absolutely cranking now.

Barry Warmkessel
April 15, 2019 3:19 am

The California high speed rail to nowhere is the most important infrastructure in CA. Just ask former gov. Brown or current Gov. Newsom.

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