The huge “glory hole” on Lake Berryessa attracts the attention of many people. It is located in the reservoir, 75 miles north of San Francisco, having the function of drainage of excess rainwater.
Californians for the first time in almost a decade witnessed something extraordinary and truly captivating, a huge “glory hole” full of spiraling water.
The huge hole is officially named as Monticello Dam Morning Glory Spillway, or simply Glory Hole, constructed in the corner as a spillway. It is a 200-foot deep circular concrete pipe with 72-foot diameter. The reservoir is constantly being filled with rainwater and when it overflows its capacity that in fact is over 440 feet above sea level; the spillway lets the excess rainwater to be safely transported to a creek below the Monticello Dam.
The reservoir was built in the far 1957 for protection against storm events, and at that time the US Bureau of Reclamation believed it would be only needed every 50 years. This was the original calculation, but for the first time it was set in action in 1996, and then again in 2006.
In February of 2017, the waters in the reservoir rose to unsafe levels as a result of the very heavy rain that lasted for several weeks.
The “glory hole” has very little suction, but it is so powerful having the capacity to move 48,000 cubic feet of water per second out of the reservoir. This makes it a dangerous site and people are not allowed to go near the reservoir. Yet, people are fascinated by its appearance and because of that it is frequently visited. The California Bureau of Reclamation advises visitors to be careful and watch out for possible mudslides and debris, and by all means observe it from a safe distance.
The huge hole is hypnotizing and attractive, and people always want to have a closer look of it, and some are bald enough to approach extremely near. However, this is not bravery as it is dangerous and it has already taken the life of a 41-year-old swimmer, Emily Schwalen, in 1997. She managed to hold on to the side of the spillway for around 20 minutes but eventually she was swept inside and lost her life.
Hence, no matter how something can be fascinating, take care of yourself and follow the official warning.
Fortunately, nowadays we have drones, and the most curious ones can see it from a safe distance, and still get astonished by the amazing hole.
In 2017, Evan Kilkus, a YouTube user flew a drone over it, and posted the video online so that everyone can see its magnitude.