A powerful vortex, large enough to swallow a boat, has appeared in one of the largest reservoirs in the U.S. The gaping hole was caught on video (below) at Lake Texoma in Oklahoma after it suddenly appeared recently.
An official said the footage, which shows the lake draining through the vortex, was caught on camera as the Denison Dam was opened up to drain the overflowing lake. The lake is on the border of Oklahoma and Texas.
The vortex is 6 to 8 feet in diameter, and the Tulsa District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says the intake vortex is large enough and powerful enough to suck up a boat, ABC News reports. Fortunately, the entire area of the vortex is marked off-limits for boaters, surrounded with buoys and warning signs by the Army Corps of Engineers to keep the area safe.
The giant hole is simply the result of water being emptied out of the lake, according to Business Insider. Lake Texoma, which is formed by the buildup of water at Denison Dam on the Red River, is drained when water levels reach a peak.
With the elevated water levels of recent weeks, the Army Corps of Engineers took the usual precautions to open floodgates at the bottom of the lake to drain the water into the river. Assistant project manager at Lake Texoma, BJ Parkey, says the flow of the water creates a cyclonic action similar to a tornado.
“I always compare it to when you fill up your bathtub and then pull the plug. When the water level gets low enough, you’ll see an apparent vortex,” Parkey told ABC News today. “The concept is the same.”
Although the Army Corps of Engineers described the opening in the lake as “capable of sucking in a full-sized boat,” Parkey is not convinced, according to the Daily Mail. The lake manager added that the hole is more likely to be around 3 feet wide, instead of the 8 feet that the Army Corps of Engineers reported.
“The vortex will always vary in size based on how much water is being released. Sometimes it’ll be so small you don’t even see it,” Parkey said.
The vortex is particularly intense because of the heavy rains in past weeks, which have caused substantial flooding. Lake Texoma is said to have reached a record-breaking level at the beginning of this month, nearing 656 feet above sea level.
Photo Credit: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Tulsa District
Video Credit: Edward N. Johnson- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Tulsa District