tv NBC Bay Area News at 6 NBC February 12, 2017 6:00pm-6:31pm PST
a mass evacuation underway nort. because of a dam spillwa the nation's tallest dam. a mass evacuation now under way north of sacramento because of a dam spillway. it is about to fail at any moment. the news at 6:00 starts right now. good evening to you and thank you for join ing us tonight. i'm peggy bunker. >> take a look at pictures from the chopper in the oroville dam. what we heard is a three-mile backup and people trying to get out of oroville because the water is spilling out of oroville lake in places it shouldn't be. a concern that the section of the spillway will send water rushing downstream.
that's why they're leaving. an emergency evacuation order is for oroville and yuba city. a lot of people trying to get out of town and the roads are clogged. >> this started at 4:15 this afternoon when dam operators noticed a hazardous situation in the auxiliary spillway. they've been letting out water at 52 cubic feet per second trying to get the pressure off of the auxiliary spillway. they then said it is time to evacuate people there warning low-level areas could see a rapid increase in water and then this. 18,000 people, the population of several towns there altogether ordered to evacuate. the national weather service saying this is not a drill. this is a life or death situation. that's what they said in their news release. a life or death situation. people are responding. a snake of cars there, and at least they're moving and it was a complete standstill and it would be terrifying.
>> a 30-foot section at the top of the dam could fail and you can imagine how much water that would be, we have seen shots of oroville dam. a lot of water if that 30-foot section were to fail it would be an immediate flooding into the feather river and a series of levies on the river and they
could breach from the sudden pressure. >> we are watching the flood warnings and let's talk about this exact area that's impacted. >> that is where the current flash flood is at all of the way through monday at 4:15 as you see there on the map. you see flood warnings being issued further south into marysville and yuba city. oroville dam that was first damaged which slowed the releases out of oroville which caused the use of this auxiliary spillway and it had never been
used until yesterday and the releases reached the peak at 1:00 a.m. and this is the structure out here to the left and maybe the upper 30 feet of it has damage due to erosion. downstream, you have oroville, palermo, and bigly is off to the left and eventually that will feed down into marysville and yuba city. that is the spillway from 11:00 this morning and this
was after the peak of the releases came over the top of the spillway. you can see signs of erosion here closer to the picture in the lower right and it's the upper sections that we're watching. very key to point out this auxiliary spillway used once the lake level climbed above 101 feet and at this hour it is still there. so as the release has increased now on the primary spillway which you saw video of before, and it looked like it was cut in half and that spillway seeing releases up to 100,000 cubic
feet per second. the hope, i think what engineers are trying to do is try to bring down the pressure the secondary spillway and the potential for 30 feet of damage and that is doubling the release rates and all of that does feed down into the feather river which is a reason why many of these communities downstream heading into oroville and we'll see those rises all of the way into monday. back to you. >> a very treacherous situation there. >> excellent. and the dam was completed in 1968. it was not as populated as it is now, but we do have residents there that are incredibly concerned and one of them is randy shelton who is joining us now on the phone from oroville and randy, thank you so much for taking a couple of moments. we know this is a scary situation for anyone in the area. tell us what is going on where you are now. >> right now from where i'm standing you probably need to use an alternate route and it looks like everyone is headed to
nelson arrest and it looks like it will be a standstill again just bottlenecked on the bridge. >> you've lived in oroville for how many years and how closer you to the dam? >> i'm probably two and a half, three miles from the dam, and i can see the emergency spillway, and i can see water coming over it. >> how come you're not leaving town and so many people are, randy? >> i have neighbors that are elderly and i will wait and make sure everyone gets out of here. >> when they chatted earlier, they're gathering things and when you get an evacuation order and it's a first of that kind and there isn't a rush to get in the car and go? >> everyone is moving pretty fast now. >> if that does give way and there is a sudden rush of water is there anybody who has told you how much of oroville would be impacted by it? because it's not just a flat area. there are hillsides there. would the downtown be impacted
or the low lying areas be hit? >> the river runs through town, so downtown would be impacted pretty bad. >> that's why we understand the order would be so profound. the national weather service said and this is verbatim in the emergency notice, act quickly to protect your life. i understand that residents there were notified by a reverse 911 call. is that how you found out? >> yes, ma'am. >> and at that point in time what's your first step there? did you gather a couple of things? i know you mentioned your dog. >> i got the family gathered up and the pictures and things we'we wouldn't be able to replace. >> you have this couple that are on in years and you're waiting for them to collect things and which way are you going to go because apparently if the cars are standing still it's not going to be a lot of good if the car is stuck in traffic. >> i'm thinking i'll head to oro dam and head to 99. >> you'll be heading which
direction? >> south, i'll be going south and then to the west. i'm only a mile from my turn to the west. >> all right. >> randy, we certainly appreciate your time. we know you have business to take care of there so we will let you go and thank you very much for the firsthand account about three miles away from the spillway. you take care and get out of there safely. we appreciate it. >> thank you. >> thank you very much. just to recap what's going on now. we have a live picture of the dam again, getting dark and it's tough to see, but we can tell you that the emergency spillway, the oroville dam may collapse any moment. more than an hour ago it looked like it would be collapsing within the hour and it has lasted longer than that. they're afraid that a 30-foot section at the top of the spillway could give way and release -- there is a good shot of it. all of that water would come over and go into the feather river and the first community hit would be oroville. >> they've never had to use this
auxiliary speedway before. the dam was built in 1968. they didn't realize there was such erosion and they had officials there last night and this morning and they sounded the alarm that the erosion could be catastrophic and that's when the warning was issued at 4:00 this afternoon. you can see the incredible pressure of the water just spilling down the hillside. now night is here. it is dark so we are continuing to watch the situation for you, and of course, bring you the very latest here and this is an ongoing situation now about four or five miles of traffic there. as we get updated people try to get out of the area as the river could rise at a very fast rate. >> the main spillway was found to be eroding yesterday. that's why they opened the emergency one and now, as you can see, that is the main spillway right there forcing at 100,000 cubic feet of water per second trying to get that dam down lower so that if it does give way then it would be less
of an impact in the communities down below and they're increasing the releases and there's also unintended release. we have two crews on the way to the situation and we'll have more for you. we do want to get to the other top story for you. we'll get to that right after this quick break. we'll be right back.
let's go back out live to the c all right. let's take you back out now to the oroville dam. this is the live chopper here over the situation right now. once again, the state is ordering those who live near the dam in several other cities nearby saying that the situation is grave. they need to leave because it is hass douse there. the bouck county sheriff says the used by the oroville dam unleashing massive aims of water here. the town of oroville has 16,000 residents and 18,000 if you consider some of the other areas nearby. they're being told to head north to chico. oroville is about 70 miles north of sacramento, so that's where the situation is under way. they knew that it was coming when they did their examinations here of the dam that they had some erosions issue and that's where they opened up the auxiliary spillway and there is erosion there as well, and as we talked to the resident randy
shelton runs through the middle of town and he says this is a concern for everyone. >> yesterday it was determined that the spillway had damage to it and they're talking about $200 million worth of work to do that and that's why they were using the spillway in oroville dam shortly after using the emergency spillway they noticed that it was not handling what it was deemed to handle per second coming out of the dam. they cut back on the amount coming out of the emergency spillway. it was coming down the original emergency spillway, the auxiliary spillway cut back and increased its emergency spillway and all going down into the feather river and about an hour and 20 minutes, the department of water services was saying it was going to be imminent collapse of 30 feet of that emergency spillway, 30 feet just going away and all that water and it's huge. the second largest reservoir in
california. it would come pouring down into the feather river, first time oroville and then down to marysville. we had the sacramento fire department 80 miles away talking about how it could impact the situation in sacramento. it has not given way yet. there is no flooding in oroville right now, but the engineers are saying it is imminent. >> some of the towns there could include oroville, palermo, thermolito and the oroville dam area and oroville east. i believe i'm saying that correctly. >> marysville also as well. >> once again, this has been happening here just for only about two hours is when the alert went out. they said over and over again this is not a drill and they want residents to take it seriously and now the big issue that we're hearing from resident, getting out and they're heading to the main thorough fare and they're trying to leave. you see the backups and one
side, the one direction where you can see the backups and at one point a resident said we're trying to leave, we're not moving. we're just stuck in traffic. >> where they're evacuating to, well, there is an evacuation center set up at the fairgrounds in chico. so this is going to impact communities to the north away from the water and of course, to the south should that spillway give way. we're getting word from yolo county which is south of sacramento count they there is no concern there for any problems with any kind of flooding and sacramento down to yuba and everyone in between the dam and those areas. >> it's interesting, too. meteorologist rob mayeda to see the different alerts here from the water service and the national weather service. basically alerting residents as to what's happening. >> affecting multiple communities and now spreading into marysville and yuba city. i was looking at the inflow still coming to the lake there even though the rain has
stopped. 45,000 cubic feet per second flowing in so the key here is you have to beat that number to get the water levels to go down. so they did ramp up the primary spillway up to 100,000 cubic feet per second. we're beginning to see a change to the lake level, but not much. this is a tough battle they're fighting out there right now. the primary spillway, that was damaged. you know the spillway that was literally cut in half by erosion earlier this week. it's the secondary spillway put into use this weekend and uncontrolled use because as soon as the lake hits the 101 feet the water spills over and that hasn't happened before until this weekend and they show you the areas impacted and thermolito and gridly and the feather river would lead some of the water down into marysville and yuba city. this is how it looked at 11:00, the spillway saw the peak and the release coming at 1:00 a.m. and you can see signs of erosion out there, each this morning.
we're looking the levels and it was 901 feet, and just under 902 feet and dropping ever so slightly and the spillover that the department of water resources did their survey and saw structural damage to the previously unused spillway. that continues to be used as long as the lake level stays above 901 feet. we'll see if the number comes down before we see any major issues with the auxiliary spillway and by more than doubling it down, that is the reason why we're seeing rapid releases coming down along the feather river into the communities from oroville and we can see impacts down into marysville and yuba city. thank goodness we don't have any rain right now adding to the problems in the northern part of the state. we have the outer band of a storm system that could bring maybe some rain to the far north coast, but to the bay area, things look relatively dry and just passing high clouds hour by hour tomorrow and we'll call it filtered sunshine and at least for us pretty mild temperatures in the forecast despite those
uncreasing high clouds. highs in the mid-60s from san jose to the trivalley and east bay looks and low 60s around concord and into the peninsula and temperatures in the low 60s and for the north bay we'll see highs in the mid-60s and the outlook here for valentine's day tuesday, also dry, and that's also important with the conditions happening around oroville, as well. wednesday, we begin to see changes by the evening and the rainmakes a comeback and we have this dry weather for the first half of the week and wednesday into thursday and back into the bay area and off to the rest of the northern california. thursday is the first storm and friday comes another storm that may impact more of southern california and notice how the rain keeps going. once it starts thursday, some projections for rainfall totals up toward the northern half of california including the oroville area to get five to eight inches of rain with shasta also nearly full capacity, too, and that is going to add extra stress to our reservoirs there at the end of the state. the seven-day forecast shows dry
weather for the next few days until the middle part of the week and thursday the winds begin to change. high surf on the coast and you'll have to watch out for that on tuesday and the parade of storm continues and storm number four comes rolling in. >> when you said five to eight inches that's the last thing in the world they need. >> let's take you there. >> thank you very much, rob. >> let's take you out to the chopper and you can see the evacuations under way and this is an order for people in the low-lying areas in lake oroville to leave the area immediately because of this impending failure of the dam. >> the evacuations are going on in marysville and yuba city, as well. we will take a break and be right back. this is gus.
proudly caring for northern california, once again: all right. let's take you back out now to the chopper over the scene of the oroville dam right now. lake oroville, once again, the state of california ordering those and the dam to evacuate the area. a hazardous situation is developing after an uncontrolled release of water from an auxiliary spillway that has never been used and had to be put into use because of the incredible levels of water there at the dam. >> happening in oroville dam. the concern right now, in fact, an hour and a half ago it was a warning was issued that the collapse of a section of this dam was imminent and the emergency evacuation of the town of oroville, and on down to yuba city. in sacramento, 80 miles away the concern is such that the sacramento fire is tweeting, we are looking into the possible effects of that much water heading downstream through all
those communities could have on the city of sacramento. >> which could be a devastating situation that could involve rescues and on that note we want menlow park fire captain to join us now. nbc bay area, we talked to them many times on these issues and we know that there is a lot of experience with these rescues and we want to know in situations like this we recently spoke to a resident, chief who said he's not leaving and he's sort of waiting for his neighbors to join him and packing things up. >> well, you know, that's a problem. you know, i was in there in '97. we went up to the floods that we had then, and it started in napa and worked over to rancho murrieta and ended our rescues up in the yuba city area where we had 12 to 18 people out of there and they marked hundreds of homes and that was january of '97 so i'm pretty familiar in
that area and people should be concerned and that's not to strike fear. that's to hopefully give some people some prudence that you want to get out of the way of water. that entire levy system has had issues for many, many years, and i'm want sure how much has been repaired or fixed, but this is a very serious situation, and i think people would do well to take it very seriously, not panic, but certainly prepare themselves and if they're in that area or in the way i would definitely, seriously think about getting ready to get out of there. >> chief, when you're looking at pictures and i don't know if you're looking at them right now, but i think you've seen the pictures and look at the oroville dam, if a 30-foot section of that emergency spillway were to give way it would be -- it would be hard to imagine the amount of water going down there. oroville is the first community
up. the emergency warning that i saw was low lying level. what's your perspective on that much water going down that fast? >> that was talked about in '97 because the amount of water. oroville at that time, there were discussions about whether or not oroville could handle all of the water and obviously, this was not even a concern. there was nothing wrong with the dam and they were releasing lots of water. it's an earthen dam. i would be very concerned and i would look at that spillway, and i would look and see what it did to the spillway and that was covered with cement and compressed soil. at this point, how can you not look at that and think that the power of water is incredible. >> right. >> and what it's going to do in its path would be a problem. the people in oroville have a better place that they're in just because they can just take and go north uphill toward the pair die
paradise in the marysville area that will have more difficult of the time to get out of the low-lying areas that are in the way. >> we certainly appreciate your insights and your experience in this situation and we hope that if anyone is watching or perhaps watching online or on their phone or mobile device that they're heeding this warning. that this is to be taken very seriously and we appreciate the input. thank you. >> we'll be right back. oroville dam right now.
the night, you're looking at an emergency spillway, oroville dam, the concern is that 30 feet of it will give way sending water down the feather river to yuba city, maybe down to sacramento. >> during an uncontrolled fashion which is what they're calling it and warning of rapid river rise. we will watch the story for you and bring you the latest tonight at 11:00.
lake oroville looking at the auxiliary spillway and monitoring the situation. >> we'll have the details on all of that for you tonight at 11:00. with the xfinity tv app, anything with a screen is a tv. stream 130 live channels, plus 40,000 on demand tv shows and movies, all on the go. you can even download from your x1 dvr and watch it offline. only xfinity gives you more to stream to any screen. download the xfinity tv app today. did you know 90% of couples disagree on mattress firmness? enter sleep number... she likes the bed soft. he's more hardcore. you can both adjust the bed for the best sleep of your life.
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