A California Town Is Being Evacuated As Officials Warn Of An Impending Dam Spillway Failure

On Sunday evening, the State of California ordered residents to evacuate low-lying areas near the Oroville Dam in the northern part of the state. Officials predicted that the structure — the country’s tallest dam and one of its biggest — would experience an “imminent” failure of the auxiliary spillway.

ABC News tweeted the above video and also published a report of a swiftly developing “hazardous situation” around the emergency spillway of Lake Oroville, which could soon release uncontrollable flooding upon the nearby town with a population of 16,000. The Butte County Sheriff’s Office advised residents to evacuate northward, and nearby fire departments are preparing for rescue operations.

The situation has been developing over the past several days with heavy rainfall causing the dam’s main spillway to suffer “unexpected erosion” causing a massive hole (200 feet long and 30 feet deep) that hasn’t stopped expanding. The emergency spillway, which has never been used until now, has been shouldering the burden since Saturday. David Biggar of NBC LA tweeted this photo of the area with clearly marked labeling of the main and emergency spillways.

Here’s what the dam looked like late Sunday afternoon with water pouring over the emergency spillway.

(Via ABC News & California Department of Water Resources)