Condit Dam Breach Scheduled for Tomorrow

An eerie calm has settled over Condit Dam.  All of the heavy equipment and scaffolding has been removed and the barge pulled out of the lake.  The workforce has been paired down and there is almost no activity around the dam.  It appears that the JR Merit team and their crew of contractors is nearly ready for the explosive breach tomorrow at noon.  Their attention has turned to safety and crowd control, while our small media crew is in full gear preparing a complex multi-camera shoot.  For everyone involved, years of planning will come down to one explosive moment tomorrow at noon.

Let me introduce you to Larry Moran.  Tomorrow, Larry will be in a helicopter patrolling the dam site and the area of river between the dam and the Columbia.  If Larry sees anyone in the area, he will shut down the blast until a team of local police can locate and remove the person.  The man has eyes like and eagle and isn’t messing around–I’m not sure I’d want him to be mad at me.  According to Larry, the concussive force of the blast will be strong enough to make your ears bleed if you’re close enough to watch it in person.  I also certainly wouldn’t really want to be responsible for the dam breach being postponed, because I’d have to answer to a lot more folks than Larry.

To satisfy the public’s desire to watch the blast, PacifiCorp has set up a live webcast of the breach and will be announcing the URL on their website on Wednesday at 11am.  There’s also a long list of parties to choose from, compiled on the Wet Planet blog.

This request is coming straight from me:  Please do not try to hike in to watch the blast or the rush of water in person.  Selfishly, our cameras are set on timers, and long delays could mean that we miss the blast from some angles.  In addition to Larry and hundreds of other folks who have worked very hard on this, I’ll not be happy.  The entire river corridor will be closed from the dam to the Columbia, so please stay clear!

Our plan for shooting the blast is complex and exciting:

  • Our two long-term time-lapse camera stations (equipped with Canon T2is) will be shooting one JPG frame every 3 seconds all day
  • A second still camera (Canon 1D Mark 4) will be shooting 1 RAW frame per second for 45 minutes starting 5 minutes before the blast
  • Two video cameras–a Sony FS100 and a Sony EX1–will each be shooting HD video for about 8 hours starting at 10am
  • Steve and I will both be mobile with Canon 5Ds

We’ll be the only ones shooting high quality still images of the blast at this tight of a sequence, and we’re excited to see what we get!  All photography is being made possible by intervalometers with an internal real-time clock, allowing us to shoot sequences of images at specific times of the day.  After setup, the cameras will be on their own until the end of the day.

Check back first thing Thursday morning for the first images from the breach.  I’m more excited than anyone to see them, so I’ll be sure to process them quickly and get them out.  If you’re interested in using images, please email me.

Cheers to the White Salmon!


14 thoughts on “Condit Dam Breach Scheduled for Tomorrow

  1. I read these two statements together….

    “In addition to Larry and hundreds of other folks who have worked very hard on this, I’ll not be happy.”

    “Steve and I will both be mobile with Canon 5Ds”

    Yeah, I imagine people that DO get to watch it live would be upset if it is delayed a few minutes….as opposed to those of use who will not be able to watch it, even if we’ve live and work here all of our lives.

    Millions of dollars spent to remove the dam, and I will bet $50 that the streaming webcam will go offline from too much traffic and almost none of the public gets to see it. Just awesome…..for some of you.

    1. As it turned out, the webcam worked just fine and no yahoos got themselves killed while trying to defy them there know-it-all authorities.

    1. Not totally sure what the situation will be. I think they’re closing 14 for a little bit around the time they expect the surge to come down.I expect there may be no place to park…

  2. The chipping away of the Gline Canyon dam is interesting (once they hit the water line) but in the words of the philosopher Jamie Hyneman; “When in doubt, C4.”
    Big booms = excitement.

  3. I hope you intend to reload the time lapse of your live footage. I was only able to glimpse a few moments of the live feed an hour after the initial blast. Please do us the honor of posting it in its full glory. Those who live on the river deserve inclusion.

  4. I watched ‘live’ yesterday from my desk. Amazing and wonderful. Way more power than was expected…that river wants FREE! Like a lot more of them!
    Thanks for your work on this!

  5. Very interesting, and I’m glad that the event was captured on film! As sharp as Larry’s eyes might be, I think he’s mistaken on the “bleeding ears” bit about the shock wave. Thanks to the high-definition video, we can see that the grass in the foreground barely sways at all throughout the sequence. True, if you’re right in front of the water wave, there will be substantial air compression. But your ears will be the least of your worries in that case.

  6. Wow, I did not realize the quantity of silt which builds up behind these dams! I had heard that reservoirs emit CO2 from the organic matter decay which is a portion of this silt.

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