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LAKE BERRYESSA SPILLOVER: Tunnel to another world

No matter how many times I’ve seen these, I’m mesmerized.

One would think we could figure out how to travel through these water tunnels by now?!

What is this phenomena?

According to the New York Times,

There is a mysterious hole in Lake Berryessa in California. It is not a supernatural whirlpool, a demon’s mouth, or a portal into hell or a fourth dimension. The creepy thing probably won’t suck you into it either.

It is just a really big drain called a spillway. And once you see it full of spiraling water, it is hard to take your eyes off it.

For the first time in a decade, January and February have brought so much rain that the lake in the Napa Valley area north of San Francisco has maxed out its water capacity. To prevent flooding, this 72-foot-wide concrete funnel is sucking down the excess. Hundreds of locals have gathered to watch the show and take photos and videos since it started on Friday. And the show isn’t over. More storms are expected toward the end of the week, and the flow may continue for up to two weeks.

“I went up there the other day and there were about 15 drones flying around and people taking videos,” said Kevin King, an operations manager at the Solano Irrigation District, which oversees the day-to-day activities at the dam. “It’s really dramatic to watch.”

This is what happens when engineers build stuff to try to prevent dams from flooding. Recently, California’s dams have gotten a lot of attention after 180,000 people were forced to evacuate their homes because of problems with the Oroville Dam’s spillways. So far, there is no worry about flooding at Berryessa.

I’d hate to be a canoe circling this “glory hole.”

Spillways come in many shapes and sizes. The one at Berryessa is of the “bellmouth” persuasion, which is also called a morning glory, plug hole or a glory hole, as the locals refer to it. The structure works a lot like the hole in the side of your sink or bathtub, which keeps water from spilling out onto the floor if someone leaves the faucet running. Only with a reservoir, it works when the rain won’t stop, as has been the case in this area, which has seen four wet storms known as atmospheric rivers so far this year.

When water rises more than 440 feet above sea level in Lake Berryessa, it spills over the lip of the morning glory, funnels down the cone and exits into Putah Creek, on the other side of the Monticello Dam. The lake can hold about 521 billion gallons of water before needing the morning glory to prevent floods.

So this hole won’t tunnel you to China. Regardless of where you end up, it would be an interesting ride.

 



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