Puerto Rico's Guajataca Dam fails, creating life-threatening situation

Puerto Rico's Guajataca Dam fails, creating life-threatening situation

Authorities in Puerto Rico issued a Flash Flood Warning for Isabela and Quebradillas municipalities on Friday, September 22, 2017, after Guajataca Dam operators reported that a failure at the dam is imminent.

At 01:30 AST (05:00 UTC) on September 23, dam operators continued to report that a failure of the Guajataca Dam is imminent, potentially causing life-threatening flash flooding downstream on the Rio Guajataca River.

The National Weather Service has been running various dam break scenarios. Results indicate that a full breach would result in large peak flows that would reach the coast in under 12 hours. Flood extent mapping of these scenarios keep flows largely within the canyon river channel.

Guajatava Dam, Puerto Rico

Guajataca Dam, Puerto Rico. Credit: Google

NWS warned all affected communities to move to higher ground. "This is an extremely dangerous and life-threatening situation. Do not attempt to travel unless you are fleeing an area subject to flooding or under an evacuation order. Act quickly to protect your life. Please heed instructions from authorities," the National Weather Service warned.

Video courtesy Weather Nation

Video courtesy Weather Nation

The Guajataca Dam is located 109 km (68 miles) west of San Juan. "It’s a structural failure. I don’t have any more details," Gov. Ricardo Rossello said Friday. “We’re trying to evacuate as many people as possible.”

Featured image: Guajataca Dam, Puerto Rico - September 2017. Credit: Weather Nation

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