Mother Nature has incredible power available at her fingertips — much more than we humans do. With water alone, she is able to destroy some of mankind’s greatest accomplishments. Water leveled the city of Miyako, Japan, in 2011, as a tsunami brought a wave surge 128 feet high. Water also destroyed much of New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit the city in 2005.
Currently, Northern California is closely watching the destructive power of water, as the spillway for our nation’s highest dam, the Lake Oroville Dam, is crumbling.
What has caused the damage to that dam’s spillway? Just water. Erosion has created a 200-feet-long by 30-feet-wide rupture in the spillway, opening the way for more erosion. The emergency spillway is being eroded away rapidly, as well, as waters rise above the lake’s capacity.
Fortunately for residents downstream, the dam itself is holding. But should either spillway fail, which is a very real possibility, a 30-feet-tall wall of water could go rushing downstream. While that isn’t as bad as a 700-feet-tall wall of water, it has caused mass evacuations of the towns in the path of potential flooding. Nearly 200,000 people have been ordered from their homes, with no promise of when they’ll be able to return.