Tag Archives: Grand Coulee Dam

How much water is coming out of that hole?

You might be seeing 2% of the river flow coming through a hole like this.
You might be seeing 2% of the river flow coming through a hole like this.

For several weeks, a powerful flow of water has been pounding the river below the dam, rushing from one outlet tube in the dam.

It causes a very slight vibration in my nearby home, so that the door between the kitchen and garage emits a high-pitched squeak. I can’t feel it or otherwise detect the vibration, but when I hear that squeak, I know that if I walk out my front door I’ll see that gigantic, thundering water spout.

So how big is it that water spout?

Flow records indicate there’s about 3.9 kcfs shooting out of that tube. That’s 3,900 cubic feet per second, or 29,000 gallons. Every second.

Water weighs something like 8 pounds per gallon, depending on the temperature, so that comes out to 232,000 pounds per second of water, under pressure, pounding the river 150 feet (guessing) below.

That’s impressive, but when you consider the total flow of the river is right now about 160 kcfs you’re only looking at about 2 percent of the river squeezing through that tube. The rest is making power through the generators.

The funny thing is that just watching 2/100ths of the river make an impressive show of power helps me appreciate the tremendous energy of the river tapped by the dam and sent out into the nation.

Lasers, bulls, wild horses and the best Memorial Day service in the state

There’s so much happening in the Grand Coulee Dam Area this Memorial Day weekend, it’s hard to know where to start.

Isle of Flags

The Isle of Flags honors veterans on Memorial Day.
The Isle of Flags honors veterans on Memorial Day.

But rightfully, that has to be an annual service called the Isle of Flags. It’s a tribute to local veterans who’ve passed on, but anybody from anywhere would find this simple, 40-minute ceremony overlooking Lake Roosevelt to be inspiring. More than 500 U.S. flags will fly in tribute at Spring Canyon Cemetery, along with those about to be dedicated.

The Isle of Flags ceremony starts at 11 a.m. Monday.

Cleatis Lacy Memorial Bull Riding and Wild Horse Race

Saturday, May 24 at 4 p.m. at the site of the best rodeo in the state, cheers will echo off the the coulee wall as cowboys take on the toughest 8 seconds in all of sports, riding bulls who know how to throw them like rag dolls. This event will also feature a wild horse race in which teams of three try to harness, saddle and ride through barrels horse so spirited they refuse to be “broke” in the old cowboy sense of the word. Admission is $10, or $8 for students. Kids under 10 get in free. And if you don’t have your kids with you, feel free to watch from the Ridge Riders’ whiskey and beer garden.

A bullrider holds on during the 2012 Cleatis Lacey Bullarama in Grand Coulee.
A bullrider holds on during the 2012 Cleatis Lacey Bullarama in Grand Coulee.

Largest laser show in North America debuts Saturday at 10 p.m.

On Saturday night at 10 p.m., the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation will debut its new laser light show on the face of Grand Coulee Dam. At more than a mile wide and as high as the Washington Monument, it’s the largest laser light show in North America. And it’s free.

This new show features all-new content on the history of the Columbia River, its people, the dam and its effects on the region and nation. The production and equipment to show it cost $1.6 million and replaces the original show that ran for 25 years.

I’ve seen some preview clips on the Internet, but I’m not going to post them here. Those do the show a disservice, because you cannot get the same effect reducing a mile-wide spectacle to a tiny screen. Just come and see it. The best place to watch it is at the Visitor Center at the dam or in the park just below the VC. But below is photo of people watching the show that ran for 25 years.

Visitors watch the Laser Light Show on the face of Grand Coulee Dam.
Visitors watch the old Laser Light Show on the face of Grand Coulee Dam.

 

The Visitor Center offers interactive fun

jackhammer
This kid thought the vibrating jackhammer was great fun.

The Grand Coulee Dam Visitor Center is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The bottle-cap-shaped building below the dam offers new exhibits designed to entertain and educate with interactive features, such as the jackhammer above. A video game lets you fly right through the dam to explore its features. Hands-on generators let you light up a miniature grid, and you can see the workings of the hydropower units.

One activity needs three to five people (perfect for a family) who sit at a table and listen to the concerns (via prerecorded video) of the many and varied people with interests affected by how the Columbia River is operated. As each player votes on various decisions, the overall plan changes and you’ll find out what your preferences did to the other parties’ interests.

It’s a great Visitor Center with knowledgeable interpreters, plus frequent movies in an upstairs theater to explain history and functions of this multipurpose dam.

For more information, call (509) 633-9265.

Bull riding and concert series will feature talent from near and far

 

A series of free concerts is scheduled for North Dam Park and events center this month, starting on Friday, Aug. 17.

And the Wednesday night before that, bull riding fans can get their fix of “beer, burgers and bulls” in a special event at the Ridge Riders Rodeo Grounds.

The rodeo grounds open at 6 p.m., Aug. 15, for what could become a frequent event next year. Bull riding begins at 7 p.m.
Then on Friday night, a local rock group called Mister Meaner will take to the “stage” at the bottom of the grass amphitheater.
The very next evening a cool trio from Spokane, The 45s, will rock your Saturday night with a rockabilly sound. Think “The Stray Cats” and you’ll come to close to hearing this fun band.

The next weekend starts with a Friday night concert by Thirsty Perfect, a Coeur D’Alene, Idaho Christian rock band, sponsored by Faith Commu

 

nity Church. The next night Mister Meaner hopes the word will have spread, and you’ll bring your friends back for a good time.

Labor Day weekend kicks of Aug. 31 with a big-name band in the Pacific Northwest — Jr. Cadillac. Folks who gathered for their concert in the park last year had a great time, and said they wanted more.
Saturday night, Sept. 1, will see another encore from a band that proved popular last year. “33” bills itself as the loudest band in Spokane. By the way, we should do something to welcome back Joe Oliver that night, a band member originally from the coulee.

The series is sponsored by the Grand Coulee Dam Area Chamber of Commerce, which is advertising it across the state and paying for it with the help of tourism tax dollars from Electric City, Grand Coulee and Coulee Dam.