The year the North Lake Dam failed

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tsinsf Contributing Member • Posts: 503
The year the North Lake Dam failed
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Seeing all the photos of North Lake fall color this year (also helped by the fact that it is the Apple OS High Sierra default desktop photo) have brought back memories. My wife and I lived in Bishop, CA, from 1980-1984. The winter of 1982-1983 was one of those killer winters in the Sierra. Tioga pass did not open until June 30. Of course there was an unusually high amount of snowpack, which typically starts melting in April. One day in May there was a rare rainstorm that dumped inches of rain on the Eastern Sierra, and the North Lake dam failed. The local authorities had no idea how severe the flooding would be in Bishop, so they prepared for the worst. The hospital got on the phone and called all the doctors and nurses in the area to come to the hospital and be prepared for a disaster. We were both medical people and of course honored their request. We lived in west Bishop, and our block had a stream running down the middle of it. We, like most people, diverted water into a small pond in our back yard, which flowed out the other end of the yard. Before we drove to the hospital we closed off the water entry into our pond hoping to avoid our house getting flooded. At the hospital, it was surreal. Nobody knew what to expect. Nobody knew how long it would take the water to flow downstream to Bishop. So we just waited. Eventually we were told we could go home. It was much ado about nothing. Some water flooded some of the streets in west Bishop but I don't think any homes were damaged. The flood did destroy one of Southern California Edison's power plants along Bishop Creek.

Here is one of my photos of North Lake, from several years ago:

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