Strange hole in the water is not an optical illusion

(ORDO NEWS) — As the heavens open in California’s eastern Napa Valley, a water portal to hell may also open.

If the water level in the Lake Berryessa reservoir at the top of the Monticello Dam rises too high, the excess water begins to swirl into a large hole, as if carved into the surface of the lake.

Known to the locals as the “Glory Hole”, this hole is not actually a hellhole, although the whirlpool looks like it is. This is a spillway built by engineers in the 1950s. An orifice is an alternative to the more classic side gutter that is used to control the flow of water from a dam or dam.

But in a narrow gap between rocks, such as the Devil’s Gate, where the Monticello Dam is located, there would be nowhere for the side chute to go. Instead, the builders settled on a big, old drain, just like your bathtub or sink.

This construction is known as the “bell mouth” (rhymes entirely with “hell mouth”); they have been used to control water levels in several other dams around the world.

However, the Glory Hole in Napa is one of the most famous as it leads to quite an interesting spectacle. In a particularly rainy 2017, hundreds of people gathered on a concrete ledge to stare open-mouthed into the yawning abyss, according to The New York Times.

In 2019, after yet another season of heavy rainfall, the Glory Hole is up and running again, this time attracting thousands of curious spectators.

In the same year, the unfortunate cormorant made headlines when he was filmed being sucked into a gutter (according to some reports, he survived).

Fortunately, the same kind of accident would most likely not befall a human swimmer these days. First, the reservoir is fenced off and prohibits swimming and boating. Secondly, most people can easily swim against the speed and strength of a whirlpool, even when it is at its most powerful.

The only case of death of a person in a reservoir was recorded in 1997, when a woman swam out onto a cement structure. She clung to the edge for 20 minutes, but the rescuers arrived too late. Her body was found a few hours later.

Although the whirlpool may look intimidating from above, those who work on it say that the speed of the water is not that great, it just flows down at the same time.

Every second, the sewer pit, 22 meters (72 feet) wide and 75 meters (245 feet) long, is capable of swallowing about 1,360 cubic meters (48,000 cubic feet) of water.

After initially falling into the hole, the water enters a narrower pipe, which, after more than half a kilometer of horizontal movement, flows into the nearby Putah Creek.

Today, the Glory Hole is well protected so that no one gets hurt by accident. When it rains, tourists often line up along the railings to watch the hole in action.

In the 1950s, when engineers built the Glory Hole, they thought it would only be used once every 50 years in extreme situations. However, since the beginning of the century, the whirlpool has opened three times.

What was built for an unlikely scenario has now become more of a seasonal sensation – another reminder that the world’s climate is changing.


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