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Mandatory Evacuations Lifted for Lake Oroville Region

After Sunday’s frenzied evacuation of the Lake Oroville area in north-central California, residents were told they could return to their homes on Tuesday afternoon.

The auxiliary spillway, essentially a backup valve designed to help the reservoir deal with over-capacity situations, was in danger of collapsing late this weekend, prompting the evacuations starting on Sunday night. A complete collapse would have sent “uncontrolled” amounts of water into the Feather River and areas downstream from California’s second-largest reservoir. Lake Oroville exceeded 101 percent of capacity average on Sunday, but water levels at the lake are now down slightly below capacity, prompting officials to allow residents to return home on Tuesday.

However, local authorities are asking residents to maintain a high level of awareness, mostly in regards to an incoming round of rain and snow that could test Oroville’s damaged spillway once again.

That said, additional work is being done by the California Department of Water Resources to prepare for more rain and snow this weekend. Boulders and concrete are being put in to help reinforce the infrastructure and protect the damaged spillway.

The forecast, however, is ominous for the area, as a series of potent storms are set to slam into the area with heavy rain and mountain snowfall, all of which could lead to continued problems for America’s tallest dam. Several inches of rain and an initial melt of snow due to high snowfall levels could test the shaky infrastructure holding back the approximately 1.1 trillions gallons of water in the reservoir.

Stay with WeatherNation for the latest on this ongoing situation.

For WeatherNation: Meteorologist Chris Bianchi

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