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Officials to further drain Lake Oroville to absorb coming rain, snow runoff

By Doug G. Ware
Officials to further drain Lake Oroville to absorb coming rain, snow runoff
Tens of thousands of people near Lake Oroville were allowed to return to their homes on Wednesday after being evacuated due to a fracture in the emergency spillway last week. Documents indicated Wednesday that officials plan to lower the lake below the recommended 840-foot level to allow for room for multiple rain storms and snow runoff. Photo courtesy California Department of Water Resources

Feb. 15 (UPI) -- Officials in Northern California plan to drain Lake Oroville further past a 60-foot target in order to allow enough room to contain the water expected from more rain storms and snow melt.

The Los Angeles Times cited state planning documents in reporting that officials hope to further reduce the lake's water level beyond the 840 feet sought by next week.

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At maximum, the lake measured about 900 feet of water.

With rain in the immediate forecast and expected runoff soon from melting snow in the mountains, planners hope the extra space will absorb the incoming water.

Life in Oroville is beginning to return to normal after mandatory evacuations were issued in recent days over concerns about a gaping hole in the lake's emergency spillway. That order, which affected almost 200,000 people, has been lifted.

Crews worked through Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning to fortify the spillway, which reroutes water when the lake rises beyond its 901-foot capacity level.

Forecasters expect three different storms in the area over the next several days -- with the third, anticipated on Tuesday, bringing the most rain.

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"The third wave is looking like our problem child," Michelle Mead, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Sacramento, said.

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