Break in Recent Storms Gives Engineers at Oroville Dam Hope

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A rainbow appears over Feather River as water cascades down the damaged spillway at Lake Oroville Dam on Feb. 10, 2017. (Credit: Brian van der Burg/Los Angeles Times)

Friday afternoon the sun peaked through the clouds above Lake Oroville and a rainbow arched over the Feather River.

It was a welcome sight for state engineers who were battling the lake’s worrisome rise with torrential releases down the reservoir’s broken concrete spillway.

The break in storms and a drop in the volume of water pouring into the huge reservoir gave dam operators hope that they could keep lake levels from hitting an elevation of 901 feet — the point at which uncontrolled flows would start washing down an unpaved emergency spillway that has never been used in Oroville’s 48-year history.

“The sun is coming out. The rain has stopped. The inflow has peaked,” said Eric See, a spokesman for the state Department of Water Resources. “We still don’t expect to use the auxiliary spillway.”

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