Not so long ago, California was in the middle of a deep drought but in June its snow water equivalent rose to a heaping 170 percent of normal. NASA shows in its latest video that satellites were capturing that change.
Portions of the Kings River will be closed for Memorial Day weekend and indefinitely after. Sheriff Margaret Mims made the safety announcement Wednesday and Jeff Nowlin, who's been coming to the river for 20 years, reiterated the dangers while pointing out how high and fast the river is moving these days.
Jimmy Marchini, 68, and his wife Gaylene, 66, describe the moment they "had to like fly to get out of here" after officials issued a flood warning to approximately 80 homes in their close-knit community west of Fresno after a levee was weakened by heavy flows from recent storms last month. That threat may not be over.
Becky Modesto, 60, believes that "a house is a house, but the family and the people in it are the things that are really important." She is keeping her suitcases out in case she has to evacuate if the Tranquillity levee breaks and floods the home she has lived in since since 1970.
Shutting off the main spillway brought into view the massive mound of concrete, rubble and debris that has formed in the channel at its base. The eroded material has raised channel levels to the point that the dam’s hydroelectric plant can’t function. DWR will spend several days in an intensive dredging operation to try to bring the river level back to normal.
As seen from the air and ground level, the gaping hole in the spillway was first photographed by The Bee on Feb. 8, the same day that inspectors were sent via tether down into the hole. Water was released later that same day. Since then, we have documented the erosion caused by the force of water.
California is trying to avert disaster at the tallest dam in the United States. With the possibility of more rain on the way, engineers are working as quickly as possible while evacuees are uncertain when they will be able to return home.
Approximately 188,000 people were evacuated due to the threat of the emergency spillway of the Oroville Dam, the United States' tallest dam, failing and unleashing flood waters. Here's drone footage from the California Department of Water Resources taken on Feb. 11, 2017 at 4 PM.