Evacuations after landslide compromises integrity of Lake Tahoma dam, North Carolina

Evacuations after landslide compromises integrity of Lake Tahoma dam, North Carolina

Thousands of people were evacuated early Wednesday, May 30, 2018 after a landslide caused by heavy rains raised fears about the integrity of Lake Tahoma dam in North Carolina.

At 06:26 EDT (10:26 UTC), the National Weather Service issued a Flash Flood Warning for areas downstream of Lake Tahoma (central McDowell County in western North Carolina) due to a potential imminent failure of Tahoma Dam, placing the area under a mandatory evacuation order.

This emergency evacuation was issued at the recommendation of dam engineers who remain on scene to monitor the dam. Lake Tahoma Dam is currently in a Level 1 or Imminent Failure Condition. This condition will continue until the engineers have the opportunity to thoroughly inspect the dam during daylight hours.

THIS IS AN EXTREMELY DANGEROUS SITUATION! MANDATORY EVACUATIONS are underway for ALL residents and businesses downstream of Lake Tahoma along Buck Creek and along the Catawba River from Buck Creek and Lake Tahoma Rd (NC 80) to the mouth of Lake James.

To save your life, please heed all county evacuation notices and take action to leave the vicinity immediately, NWS said in the warning.

The excessive rainfall over the warned area has caused numerous mudslides and additional mudslides are possible near steep terrain. The mudslide can consist of rock, mud, vegetation and other loose materials and are very powerful.

Move to higher ground NOW. 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.

Most flood deaths occur in vehicles. Do not attempt to cross water-covered roadways, bridges, or low-level crossings. Only a few inches of rapidly flowing water can carry away your vehicle. It is not worth the risk. Please TURN AROUND, DON`T DROWN.

The floodwave along Buck Creek above and below Lake Tahoma will increase the risk of landslides, especially in areas where slides have occurred in the past. Be especially alert if you are near a stream, especially at the base of a mountain or in a cove. Watch for loose-moving soil and rocks or a sudden increase in streamflow. Leave the area quickly if this is observed. When driving along roads where the terrain is steep or rocky, watch and listen for falling rocks, mud, trees and other debris.

Lake Tahoma, North Carolina

Image courtesy Google

McDowell County received between 101 and 152 mm (4 and 6 inches) of rainfall over the past 24 hours, causing significant and life-threatening flooding countywide.

Floodwaters in the region have reached levels not seen since 2004 floods associated with Hurricanes Frances and Ivan, NWS said, adding that numerous evacuations of residences, businesses, and campgrounds, road closures, water rescues, and landslides are ongoing.

Featured image credit: CBC


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