Is Lake Shasta Going To Overflow?

Unless you live somewhere else other than the West Coast, then you’re fully aware of the recent deluge and so-called “atmospheric river” that has blasted many parts across the western front of the United States.  In the five-year, drought stricken State of California, water is flowing incessantly from every nook and cranny, gushing water into the parched and thirsty landscapes.  It is a welcome reprieve but at the same time is it too much? Can our archaic water systems and infrastructure take it?  Lake Shasta, from water officials, say the reservoir received approximately  73,472,653,908 gallons of water in 24 hours! Yep, that’s billions.


Widespread flooding, road closures, mud slides and evacuations have plagued much of the state this week with even talk of many reservoirs overflowing as more water is flowing into them than is physically able to flow out.  Some dams and spillways are going to be able to handle the almost biblical proportions of water coming downstream and some are not.

APTOPIX Damaged Dam

The Oroville Dam Spillway in California is a prime example of a reservoir that is unable to release enough water to accommodate the amount of water coming in. This week, due to the outdated infrastructure, the spillway flowing out of Lake Oroville and into the Feather River has failed and will probably be completely eroded in the next few days. Time will tell.  There is an emergency spillway but there is no concrete and it’s never been used, so officials are only guessing what the outcome will be.


The image on the right shows the damage done to the spillway after the hole was noticed and flows were sent down to test the spillway.  As you can see the hole is massive and is eroding under and the sides of the spillway.  Although we have no hard facts to back up this was actually 2013 but it looks like there were known issues with the spillway previous to the recent damage.  Hindsight is always 20/20.  There is going to be a lot of finger-pointing going on but lets just hope the damage downstream in minimized for all involved.

The newscast below goes over more details on the Oroville Dam situation regarding the damaged spillway and emergency spillway that possibly will be used to mitigate and direct overflowing water away from the dam if needed.  What is going to happen to the people, infrastructure and ecosystems below?


A great glimpse of what is going on for those not familiar with the Oroville Dam Spillway situation. The latest news briefings say that they may not have to use emergency spillway if rain stops and increasing water from the power plant which has been running below it maximum output.


In the next video notice the fresh clearing of trees and brush on the top of the emergency spillway path.  This will give you a better real-time aerial look at the current damn dam ( or rather spillway) situation.

Lake Shasta

Now that we’ve taken a look at Oroville lets take a look at whats going up at Shasta Lake.  We are going to start this one off with a look back in the 1970’s when Shasta Lake filled up and came over the top.

“This is archival footage from KIXE from I believe the Spring of 1978 (or was it 1979?) when Shasta Lake overflowed the dam after the infamous 1976-1977 drought. At the time experts had said Shasta Lake could never recover in just one year, but it did.”

You gotta love the music and over feeling to this oldie.  This is an absolute classic! Sit back and enjoy!

Early this morning the lake passed the 10′ foot to the top mark on Shasta Dam.  Between midnight of Feb 8th and midnight of Feb 9th, the lake shot up 10′ and it continues to steadily climb about a 1/4 of a foot an hour for the past several hours. Some interesting facts from the previous storm(s) near Lake Shasta:

– Highest inflow this season was recorded was midnight last night at the rate of 171,700 CFS (1,284,405 gallons per second)!

– 10′ Increase between 00:00 02/08 and 00:00 02/09 at an increase of 225,479 acre feet of water (73,472,653,908 gallons of water in 24 hours)!

– The last time we were at this level was June 2, 2012  (Came within
2.5 feet from full pool in 2012)

– McCloud location has received 19.12″ of rain month to date, 47.26″ year to date.

It’s unlikely that Lake Shasta will overflow in the next few days but the future will be in the hands of Mother Nature and the amount of precipitation we receive after this event. Commencing today, the Bureau of Reclamation will start ramping up flows out of the dam in order to make room for the incoming flows.  Unlike Lake Oroville, Shasta Dam was designed to overflow due to the excessive amounts of rainfall the area above the dam can receive in wet years.  If you have ever experienced one of these events you know how impressive they can be. The releases from Shasta into Keswick and into the Lower Sacramento River will jump to 50K cubic feet per second today, 60K by Saturday and  70K by Sunday. This is in order to meet the regulations for flood control and allow more water to go out than is coming in and keep Lake Shasta from overflowing while also giving flood protection from below Shasta and Keswick Dams.

Scheduled Releases out of Keswick Dam near Redding, CA.

-Friday:               50,000 CFS

-Saturday:          60,000 CFS

-Sunday:             70,000CFS

What do you think? Will Lake Shasta Overflow?



A current look at reservoir conditions for the State of California. There is more blue than we have seen in a long time!


*Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko has closed the Sacramento River to boating and other recreation  due to higher than normal water releases from Shasta and Keswick dams. The closure does not  apply to lakes and will be rescinded once conditions are safe.  







Fish Kennedy Brothers

Northern California Fly Fishing Guides


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s