Lake Oroville water on the rise after rainy weekend

Lake Oroville rose 20 feet over the weekend and is expected to continue to rise with the runoff.

Posted: Oct 25, 2021 8:16 PM
Updated: Oct 26, 2021 9:09 AM

OROVILLE, Calif. - The weekend rain is brought a big boost to Lake Oroville which earlier this year reached a record low water level.

On Sunday morning the lake sat at 631 feet and it jumped to 651 feet by Monday morning, a 20-foot increase.

"Tomorrow, Wednesday, maybe even Thursday we'll see those numbers continue to come up,” hydrology section manager at the Department of Water Resources, David Rizzardo said.

Rizzardo told Action News Now that he projects the water rising 10,000-15,000 cubic feet per second, a dramatic difference from the dry summer months.

During the summer they saw maybe 1,000-1,200 cubic feet per second.

“This is certainly a nice change in the right direction,” Rizzardo said. “It depends on how the watershed reacts especially with how dry it's been and especially with some of the burn areas. So those numbers could be on the high end or they could be a little bit lower than that."

Less than one month ago you could see trees peeking out of the water and things looking a whole lot drier. Now, almost all the branches are completely submerged.

RELATED: Wet and windy storm cost one local farmer hundreds of trees

"Now that we are at this record low in the lake, I kind of explain it as this cone effect,” Superintendent of California State Parks, Matt Teague said. “The lake is going to rise much faster at the bottom of the lake because of that less surface area."

Extreme erosion and thick silt now line where the Stage III Boat Launch Ramp is.

"We need about 20 more feet to open up our lowest concrete ramps and that would be at Bidwell Canyon Stage III,” Teague said. “Right around 660-665 is when we prepare to open that back up."

Once it dries out and the expected runoff moves in over the next few days Teague told Action News Now we could be at the bottom of the Stage III Ramp before we know it.

It will still be some time before we see these houseboats back out on the water. The boats were pulled at around that 700-foot mark when the Bidwell Canyon Marina Stage II Boat Launch Ramp was still open, but we will need to see a pretty wet winter in order to put them back onto the water.

Even with some water flowing in, it also still might be a while before the Hyatt Power Plant resumes operation.

"It's been offline for a couple of months now, but I am not sure if we have an exact figure for when it's going to come back online, but it's being assessed,” Rizzardo said.

In a normal water year, DWR Officials told Action News Now the Northern Sierra on average would see about 53 inches of precipitation. It is just three weeks into the water year and there have been nearly 12 inches.

That is a great start, but to make a significant dent in ending the drought DWR said we would need to see 75 to 80 inches.

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The Thanksgiving weekend may be coming to an end, but the dry and mild weather will be sticking around for the foreseeable future!
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