back to article Gulp! Drones dodge spray from California's gaping moist glory hole

Drone operators have been gazing in fascination as, for the first time in over a decade, the Lake Berryessa glory hole has been swallowing up excess water and shooting it down into Putah Creek. Youtube Video A glory hole – or to give it the proper name, a morning glory spillway (named after the beautiful flower's shape) – is …

  1. Winkypop Silver badge

    Stuff of nightmares


    1. Chemical Bob

      Re: Stuff of nightmares

      Stuff of Edgar Allan Poe stories:

  2. redpawn Silver badge

    Portal to another Dimension

    This is a better looking than action sci-fi worm holes. Hope the special effects people take note.

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: Portal to another Dimension

      Indeed, I was just thinking that the Dr. Who music would be a better accompaniment to that vertical view than Highway to Hell.

    2. NightFox

      Re: Portal to another Dimension

      The close-up looks like a Winamp visualization plugin from the '90s

  3. Aaiieeee

    The water near the edge is so calm and perfectly smooth. It makes me uncomfortable.

    1. SkippyBing Silver badge

      Indeed. It looks like there's laminar flow all the way into the hole which I'm guessing the designers did on purpose.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I am a dinghy sailor and this scares the bejasus out of me.

        The later video is even more nightmare inducing as there is enough depth of water that you could happily cruise right into the thing without hitting the concrete sides.

        1. Mark 85 Silver badge

          Rewatch the video and also Google some pics. There's a barrier some distance away to keep boaters away. I wondered the same thing also, but a lot of dams use the same method.. orange buoys and roped/chained together.

        2. Lotaresco

          "I am a dinghy sailor and this scares the bejasus out of me."

          I used to sail a GP14 on Errwood reservoir back in the days that their plughole was in operation for most of the year. They took the sensible precaution of having a safety boat and a boom across the corner of the dam to keep boats at a safe distance.

  4. Evil Auditor Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Clickbait title!

    That's one of the things I like about El Reg.

    This hole makes me want to throw in some staffstuff from around here...

    1. getHandle

      Re: Clickbait title!

      One of the things I least like about El Reg - a perfectly good engineering story spoilt with irrelevant crap. Don't get me wrong - I'm all for stories about irrelevant crap, but I prefer them kept separate from the real ones!

      1. MrDamage

        Re: Clickbait title!

        > "One of the things I least like about El Reg - a perfectly good engineering story spoilt with irrelevant crap."

        Like your comment?

  5. 2460 Something
    Thumb Up

    not to mention my mum's name for the cupboard under the stairs - such is language.

    Language is a beautiful thing.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Here in Canada the term for visiting your lake-side holiday home = eyebrow raising to hear your boss announcing he goes cottaging at the weekend

    2. Scroticus Canis

      not to mention my mum's name for the cupboard under the stairs - such is language

      Bet he hasn't clued his mum in on the more usual meaning.

      No, I wouldn't either.

    3. Pliny the Whiner

      '[n]ot to mention my mum's name [of 'glory hole'] for the cupboard under the stairs - such is language."

      Then again, your mum might be pulling your leg, i.e., saying something "unintentionally naughty" to cause you brain irritation or some other distress. In any case, a good son would giggle a few times, then recommend to mum that she use "hidey hole" from then on. (Feel free to Britainize it by sprinkling in a completely unnecessary letter "u" or maybe an "ae," e.g., "hydae houle.")

      You're welcome.

      1. jake Silver badge


        The cupboard under the stairs was called a glory hole when I was pre-teen in California over 50 years ago. My grandparents (both sides) used the term, with nary a blush. I don't remember hearing about the sexual variation on the theme until probably around 1990.

        1. CraPo

          Re: Pliny

        2. david 12 Bronze badge

          Re: Pliny

          1825, "drawer or box where things are heaped together in a disorderly manner." The first element probably is a variant of Scottish glaur "to make muddy, dirty, defile" (Middle English glorienleir "mud." Hence, in nautical use, "a small room between decks,"

          That explains the "glory", but I'm not sure why a "Glory Box" is called a Hole. Perhaps the Scottish term is derived from the nautical term? Also, not sure that the mining term is directly related to the Scottish/ nautical term at all.

  6. Roger Greenwood

    For UK readers see Ladybower

    1. cantankerous swineherd

      Re: For UK readers see Ladybower

      google maps Ladybower Dam:

      two plugholes of doom at either side of the dam.

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: For UK readers see Ladybower

        My first thought too - a lovely photo here:

    2. Lotaresco

      Re: For UK readers see Ladybower

      There's also one at Errwood, not that far away. Although I think concerns about the strength of the dam means that the water is no longer allowed to get that high.

      Scary hole in the world with a William Hope Hodgson style house[1] hovering on the edge between this world and the void.

      It was all very atmospheric at one time, especially since Alan Garner's "The Moon of Gomrath" had some of the scariest scenes set in this location and at the ruins of Errwood Hall on the other side of the valley.

      [1] OK, I know it's not a house, but it is one of the coolest structures[2] known and when the water was allowed to go down the spillway the building hovered over the edge, wreathed in mist.

      [2] I'm not sure what it is, it had some big valves and levers visible through the windows.

      1. Lotaresco
        1. AndyS

          Re: For UK readers see Ladybower

          For any other Northern Irish readers here, there's a rather beautiful example, with laminar flow, similar to the article, in the Silent Valley Reservoir. It's so close to the dam it makes it tempting to try and jump in - Google Maps link here, with it intimidatingly visible.

  7. Tuesday Is Soylent Green Day

    One hell of a water slide

    for the suicidally inclined

  8. jake Silver badge

    To be honest ...

    ... while pretty impressive, the drain is just doing its job. The real story is that we've had a LOT of precip in Northern California for the first time in a long time. We've had 28.25 inches of rain here in Sonoma since January 1st (roughly 25 miles as the crow flies from the Berryessa "Glory Hole"). That is close to three times normal. More importantly, the snow pack in the Sierra (California's "water bank") is much higher than normal, several reporting stations report over 500 inches of snow so far this season.

    It's not enough to bust the drought, that would take four or five years of this kind of weather (need to refill the aquifers). But it's a start ...

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge

      "several reporting stations report over 500 inches"

      That's close to 42 feet of snow in 1 season.

      But this does look like the Mother of all water slides.

      I suspect the trouble (apart from not being able to hold your breath long enough) is what's at the bottom.

      1. Tom 38 Silver badge

        Re: "several reporting stations report over 500 inches"

        I think the mother is still Llyn Brianne

      2. jake Silver badge

        Re: "several reporting stations report over 500 inches"

        That's over 42 feet of snow in two months. Squaw Valley (a ski resort) hit over 56 feet of snow during the 2010 season, and that's not a record!. The orographic lifting of the Sierra Nevada tends to wring out all the water evaporated by the long fetch of the Pacific Ocean. Nevada, the next state East of California, is the driest in the nation as a direct result.

        California ain't just for beach-bums, dude.

        1. Lotaresco

          Re: "several reporting stations report over 500 inches"

          "California ain't just for beach-bums, dude."

          Our bit of Italy has 10,000ft mountains not far from the Adriatic sea. This year we got snowfall of two metres in a single day which was one of the causes of the Rigopiano avalanche. Because of the short journey time from mountains to sea it's possible in April to go skiing in the morning then drive to the coast which takes 40-50 minutes and spend the day on the beach.

          Sadly we aren't for surfers. The Adriatic is too land-locked for surf. There are plenty of bums on the beach, though.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: "several reporting stations report over 500 inches"

            I have snow-skied at sunrise in the Sierra (24F), water skied on the Delta at noon (88F), and surfed in the rain at Davenport Landing at sunset (65F). All on the same day (June 2nd, my ex-'s birthday). I drove home through heavy fog over the Golden Gate Bridge later in the evening.

            The afore mentioned Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows (another ski resort) are both reporting over 57 feet ... and they expect to be open for skiing through the 4th of July weekend and possibly beyond.

      3. Old Used Programmer

        Re: "several reporting stations report over 500 inches"

        The record (and remember that recorded history for this sort of thing isn't all that long) is over 800 inches.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As I enjoyed his piece I wondered if the author could keep it up all the way to the end, so kudos to him on what was a stunning climax.

  10. inmypjs Silver badge

    So where are

    the pics of the plug and chain?

  11. SimonF


    Someone (more than one?) have gone over Niagra Falls in a barrel.

    How long before someone tries this?

    Throw in a football and time how long it takes to exit, I bet it's not long.

    1. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: Survival

      Strap a GoPro (or cheap knock-off thereof) to the football before you chuck it in.

      1. Wokstation

        Go Pro

        I was thinking of a litre plastic bottle with a weight at one end and a camera in the middle.

    2. Palpy

      Re: Survival: next stop, glory.

      I had heard or read somewhere (maybe apocryphal) that one reason a morning glory spillway is called a glory hole is that if you enter, you are bound for glory. According to this page a UC Davis grad student accidentally took that fast deadly trip down the Monticello hole in 1997.

    3. jake Silver badge

      Re: Survival

      For a list of people/things to go over Niagra Falls, see:

      I seriously doubt the Berryessa drain is survivable.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    My toilet cistern has one like this too. Obviously not quite as large.

    1. Steve Knox

      Re: Overflow

      Yes, but you don't film it with a drone or invite people to come see your "glory hole" -- do you?

      On second thought, don't answer that question. Please.

      1. Lotaresco

        Re: Overflow

        "On second thought, don't answer that question. Please."

        Pass the mind bleach, please?

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Even though...

    This looks like a massive anus, its still not the biggest arsehole in California.

  14. Stevie Silver badge


    Video ruined as per Yootoob standard with choice of music. Drone use appears to go with Tin Ear.

    The close-up of the vortex begged for the original Dr Who theme as accompaniment.

    1. EddieD

      Re: Bah!

      Nah, a descending Shepard tone.

  15. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

    oooeerr missus

    not to mention my mum's name for the cupboard under the stairs

    That must be a rich comic seam.....

    "its too dark in that glory hole to find anything"

    "that glory holes getting too full"

    "we need to clean the glory hole out "

    etc etc

  16. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

    Campain for plain english

    "I would say it's a big drain in the lake," said Sarah McBride, a public affairs specialist

    Now thats the kind of straight talking that should be mandatory in politics.

    and PR

    and advertising

  17. EastFinchleyite

    Plug hole myth

    Beautifully nails the myth about water rotating clockwise down a plughole in the northern hemisphere, and anti-clockwise in the southern hemisphere. Unless of course the men in black helicopters have moved California to the Equator without telling us.

  18. Andy The Hat Silver badge

    conversion let down?

    I don't understand 48000 cubic feet blah de blah ... what's that in blue whales or (as noted on the BBC website the other day) bull Giraffes?

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: conversion let down?

      Homework assignment: Do the math. Report back to class.

  19. W4YBO

    3.5 feet 21-Feb-17


    4k video. Looks much deeper at the edge, now.

    And still no Coriolis rotation.

  20. Harman Mogul

    SFX required!

    A rubber duck would do

  21. wsm

    Bell-mouth spillway is the correct term

    1. Orv Silver badge

      Re: Bell-mouth spillway is the correct term

      That's certainly a far more polite one, although when I visited Hungry Horse Dam* even the guide called it a "Glory Hole". ;)

      * Before they used 9/11 as a convenient excuse to stop bothering with public tours.

  22. Fatman Silver badge

    "Glory Hole", and the best use for it....

    Would be to suck down a shitload of politicians, followed up by lawyers and then finally PHB's.

    As for politicians, we here in Merica can nominate any of 537 that come off the top of my head. From what I read of the attitude over on your side of the pond, there is considerable sentiment for sending someone named 'May' down it.

    1. Mark Exclamation

      Re: "Glory Hole", and the best use for it....

      Nope, we love James, and certainly would NOT send him down it.

  23. Haku

    It does resemble a bumhole...

    On that note, has anyone played pooh sticks with it yet?

    1. Martin Budden

      Re: It does resemble a bumhole...

      When my 9 year old saw the video he said "woah, that looks like an ominous butthole".

  24. stu_san

    Cue exciting music

    The straight down shot reminded me of the throat of the Doomsday Machine from the original Star Trek series. I know that's not as popular as Dr. Who in Brexit-land.

    And I don't care that it's not technical or associated with IT -- it's cool!

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: Cue exciting music

      This was carefully designed by engineers - so how is that not technical?

  25. jake Silver badge

    Coriolis effect

    Various folks have asked. A simple explanation follows:

  26. T-Bo

    Original Star Trek

    Obviously the planet-killer from TOS episode, the Doomsday Machine.

    Just need a wrecked USS Constellation circling it for good measure.

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