Damaged dam threatens northern California towns Yahoo News Photo Staff 1 hour 34 minutes ago Damaged dam threatens northern California towns Californians who were ordered to evacuate due to a threat from the tallest dam in the United States can now return home after state crews working around the clock reinforced a drainage channel that was weakened by heavy rain.Officials had ordered 188,000 people living down river from the Oroville Dam to evacuate on Sunday and reduced that to an evacuation warning on Tuesday, Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said.That means people can move back to their homes and businesses can reopen, but they should be prepared to evacuate again if necessary, Honea told a news conference.Both the primary and backup drainage channels of the dam, known as spillways, were damaged by a buildup of water that resulted from an extraordinarily wet winter in Northern California that followed years of severe drought.The greater danger was posed by the emergency spillway, which was subject to urgent repairs in recent days. Though damaged, the primary spillway was still useable, officials said.More rain was forecast for as early as Wednesday and through Sunday, according to the National Weather Service, but the state Department of Water Resources said the upcoming storms were unlikely to threaten the emergency spillway.Evacuees received more good news from President Donald Trump, who declared an emergency in the state, authorizing the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Homeland Security to coordinate disaster relief efforts. (Reuters)See more news-related photo galleries and follow us on Yahoo News Photo Tumblr.
ENJOLI FRANCIS,Good Morning America 15 hours ago
News California officials rush to drain lake as new storms begin
JONATHAN J. COOPER and PAUL ELIAS,Associated Press 17 hours ago Sheriff: Calif. Dam Still ‘Emergency Situation’ Scroll back up to restore default view.OROVILLE, Calif. (AP) — Officials raced to drain more water from a lake behind battered Oroville Dam as new storms began rolling into Northern California on Wednesday and tested the quick repairs made to damaged spillways that raised flood fears.The three storms were expected to stretch into next week. Forecasters said the first two storms could drop a total of 5 inches of rain in higher elevation.However, the third storm, starting as early as Monday, could be more powerful.”There a potential for several inches,” National Weather Service forecaster Tom Dang said. „It will be very wet.”Nonetheless, California Department of Water Resources chief Bill Croyle said water was draining at about four times the rate that it was flowing in and the repairs should hold at the nation’s tallest dam.About 100,000 cubic feet of water was flowing from the reservoir each second, enough to fill an Olympic-size swimming pool.Croyle said work crews had made „great progress” cementing thousands of tons of rocks into holes in the spillways.We shouldn’t see a bump in the reservoir” from the upcoming storms, he said.The reservoir has dropped 20 feet since it reached capacity Sunday. Croyle said officials hope it falls 50 feet by this Sunday.Still, officials warned residents who have returned to their homes that the area downstream of the dam remained under an evacuation warning and they should be prepared to leave if the risk increases.Some 200,000 people were allowed to return home Tuesday after being ordered to evacuate Sunday.Sandra Waters, 42, of Oroville initially fled her home with little more than the clothes she was wearing. Now, she’s preparing for the possibility of another evacuation by gathering food, clothing and sentimental items like photographs.
KGO – San Francisco 13 hours ago2:161:581:492:151:112:33Impact of Highway 17 lane closures growing in Santa Cruz area The impact of lane closures on Highway 17 in the Santa Cruz Mountains is growing.
Los Angeles Times 9 hours ago Climate change did not produce California’s winter flooding that abruptly ended a devastating drought. That weather swing is just how California works. California has endured rotating cycles of wet and dry periods throughout its history. If there are weeks of deluge, a severe drought is on the way. It happens every decade or so. But climate change will bring more frequent and robust cycles of extreme weather. Bet on it. “All of our climate change calculations suggest wetter wets and drier dries,” says Jeffrey Mount, a water expert at the Public Policy Institute of California. He’s also founding director of the Center for Watershed Sciences at UC Davis. The amount of precipitation will stay basically …George SkeltonContact ReporterCapitol Journal Climate change did not produce California’s winter flooding that abruptly ended a devastating drought. That weather swing is just how California works.California has endured rotating cycles of wet and dry periods throughout its history. If there are weeks of deluge, a severe drought is on the way. It happens every decade or so.But climate change will bring more frequent and robust cycles of extreme weather. Bet on it.“All of our climate change calculations suggest wetter wets and drier dries,” says Jeffrey Mount, a water expert at the Public Policy Institute of California. He’s also founding director of the Center for Watershed Sciences at UC Davis.The amount of precipitation will stay basically the same, Mount says. But there’ll be less snow and more warm rain, and thus more rapid runoff into swollen rivers.The recent soaking, he continues, “is a window into the future. We’re going to have wild swings in weather.”Former state water director Lester Snow agrees.“We’ll move very dramatically from historic drought to historic precipitation — a protracted dry period followed by a record storm,” Snow says. “This will increase the need for off-stream and underground water storage.”“We need to take a comprehensive look into how we operate our dams,” Mount says.That’s an understatement after the near-catastrophe last weekend at Oroville Dam, the tallest dam in the nation and keystone of the State Water Project. It forms California’s second largest reservoir.With the lake level rising rapidly and water being released into the Feather River as quickly as possible, a giant crater was carved by erosion in the main spillway. Then water began eroding a nearby emergency spillway that was unlined and had never previously been used.
Natural ‘Firefall’ phenomenon captured in wild photographs
AFP 11 hours ago A wildfire destroyed at least 11 homes and forced hundreds of terrified residents to evacuate in the New Zealand city of Christchurch, authorities said Thursday.Civil defence officials declared a state of emergency in the South Island city late Wednesday as two blazes that had been smouldering for days merged into a single giant fire-front.Christchurch City Council said more than 1,800 hectares (4,500 acres) of land had been torched in the Port Hills, an area of rugged terrain difficult to access to the east of the city centre.About 1,000 people had been evacuated and, with winds forecast to pick up and fan the flames, authorities warned residents to flee at the first sign of danger.”We understand it’s hard for people to leave their homes but the fire can change direction and move incredibly quickly,” police senior sergeant Ash Tabb said.”If you’re worried, don’t leave it too late — it’s better to be safe than sorry.”With a thick pall of smoke hanging over Christchurch, residents with respiratory ailments were advised to stay indoors.Wildfires of such ferocity are rare in New Zealand, where regular rainfall usually prevents them reaching the intensity seen in places like Australia and the US west coast.Prime Minister Bill English took a helicopter flight over the disaster zone on Thursday and said the blazes may have been deliberately lit.”I’ve only had a very brief description of the fire starting in two places at about the same time, which to me looks suspicious,” he told reporters.”But those investigations are underway.”The emergency has so far claimed one life, when a helicopter that was dumping water on the flames crashed Tuesday and killed pilot Steve Askin, a decorated special forces veteran.Civil Defence said it had confirmed 11 homes had been razed but added the situation was constantly changing.It said 14 helicopters and three planes were helping battle the blaze, the maximum number of aircraft that could safely operate around the fire-front at one time.Some 200 firefighters were operating about 45 pumps and tankers on the ground, with police and the military also providing additional personnel for the emergency response.Civil defence said weather conditions were forecast to ease on Friday, slowing the fire’s progress.
New study explains decade of glacial growth in New Zealand UPI Wed, Feb 15 7:19 AM PSTFeb. 15 (UPI) — Globally, glaciers have been on the retreat for several decades. Between 1983 and 2008, however, at least 58 New Zealand glaciers grew in size.Scientists have struggled to explain their advance, but new analysis suggest a regional climate anomaly, a period of unusually cold temperatures, encouraged their growth.”Glaciers advancing is very unusual — especially in this period when the vast majority of glaciers worldwide shrank in size as a result of our warming world,” Andrew Mackintosh, a climate scientist at Victoria University of Wellington’s Antarctic Research Centre, said in a news release. „This anomaly hadn’t been satisfactorily explained, so this physics-based study used computer models for the first time to look into it in detail.”Mackintosh and his colleagues built a climate model — populated with data from field observations in New Zealand — to illuminate the drivers of glacial growth. Their findings, detailed in the journal Nature Communications, suggest a prolonged period of low temperatures, not precipitation, explain the advancing glaciers.Researchers say heightened regional climate variability is one the byproducts of man-made climate change.”New Zealand sits in a region where there’s significant variability in the oceans and the atmosphere — much more than many parts of the world,” Mackintosh said. „The climate variability that we identified was also responsible for changes in the Antarctic ice sheet and sea ice during this period.”The period of cooling and glacial growth appears to now be over. New Zealand’s largest glacier, Franz Josef Glacier, has retreated almost a mile since 2008.”New Zealand’s glaciers are very sensitive to temperature change,” Mackintosh said. „If we get the two to four degrees of warming expected by the end of the century, our glaciers are going to mostly disappear. Some may experience small-scale advance over that time due to the regional climate variability, but overall they will retreat.”Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more news from UPI.com