Skip to comments.Before and After: Photos Show Mudslide's Destruction [60 Miles N.E. From Seattle]
Posted on 03/24/2014 1:44:07 PM PDT by zeestephen
A mudslide in Washington state turned a square mile of Snohomish County into complete devastation and claimed the lives of at least eight people and destroyed dozens of homes. The slide, which occurred around 11 a.m. PT Saturday, turned land that spanned neighborhoods into "quicksand." [18 more "missing"]
(Excerpt) Read more at nbcnews.com ...
Odd feeling that must be to look out your window and see the Earth coming to get you.
I always thought that if the country side had a lot of vegetation that slides like this wouldn't occur. Guess I was wrong.
My heart and prayers go out to the people affected.
I lived in the Santa Cruz mountains, which had the last big landslide with many fatalities. Here is a write up of that tragedy:
Jan 5, 1982: Landslides kill 33 in California Previous DayJanuary 5CalendarNext Day
0 On this day in 1982, (January 5) a series of landslides near San Francisco, California, kills up to 33 people and closes the Golden Gate Bridge. In all, an amazing 18,000 different landslides took place in the San Francisco Bay Area following a very heavy rain storm.
Two fast-moving fronts carrying extremely heavy rain passed through San Francisco in a 36-hour period beginning on January 4, during which the area received an amount of rain equal to half its average annual precipitation. Some areas received as much as 24 inches of rain on January 4 and 5. On January 5, the rain began to trigger thousands of separate landslides in the Bay Area hills.
Almost without exception, the slides caught their victims completely unaware. San Francisco State University professor Kai-yu Hsu was in the basement of his home in Tiburon. Suddenly, there was a deafening roar and, within seconds, the home was gone--it crashed into a park at the bottom of a hill. His son, Roland, witnessed the tragedy while standing just outside the home.
In all, about 7,800 homes and businesses were seriously damaged by slides and falling trees. Roads became impassable when mud and large boulders crashed down onto them. The Golden Gate Bridge even had to close due to a landslide. When seven homes in Love Creek collapsed on a hillside, 10 people died instantly. It is believed that between 22 and 33 people were killed in total. Damages exceeded $100 million, and the region was declared a federal disaster area. It was the Bay Area's worst natural disaster since a 1906 earthquake.
Using aerial surveillance in the days following the storm, officials determined that about 18,000 separate slides occurred. In most areas, homes have since been rebuilt on the original lots, using sub-surface pipes and retaining walls to help prevent a repeat disaster.
I believe a fresh logging road was partially responsible for the collapse. The Santa Cruz mountains were always full of landslides and collapsing stuff. Roads would disappear all the time.
Prayers out to all the families of the missing. The cries for help the other night when it happened have long since stopped.
I just crossed the Stillaguamish river a few minutes ago, and you can tell it’s dammed up.
One of the missing is the wife of one of the local firefighters, who is officially on the rescue crew.
no kidding....sad for those affected. But this reminds me of one more think I like about the midwest: our dirt stays put.
I live a few miles from there. It’s an incredibly beautiful area.
As of now there are 8 confirmed dead but 108 reports of additional missing persons. The 108 is a very fluid number. The death toll may end up less than this, but they have 180 “possibles” on their list. There is nearly zero chance that anyone is left alive in the slide area.
There were 49 parcels of land with structures on them in the slide area. The disaster response team does not know for sure, but an estimated 25 homes were believed to be occupied at the time of the slide. Everything in the slide area is totally destroyed.
Anyone in a car in the slide area is also dead. No one knows how many that would be.
The slide dammed the river, creating a small lake upstream of the slide. The lake has risen enough for the water to have found a channel out and the lake level is now stable. The last I heard there were 6 homes flooded by the new lake.
Right now it is dry. Relatively light rain is predicted to start tonight and showery weather will continue for the rest of the week. Heavier rain is possible Friday.
The source of the slide is still unstable, with small amounts of additional “stuff” still sliding down (I watched one happen). If the additional rain is hard enough to cause much additional material to come down then the new river channel would also be blocked (it is at the base of the slide area, NOT on the far side of the slide). Blocking the river at the same time the river is rising due to heavy rain would be a very bad thing.
We don’t normally expect to make national news around here, but I had a friend email me from Europe this morning asking me for details. So I guess we’ve made the news.
I looked at a larger photo of the area, and it appears that the debris went about one half mile from the bottom of the slope, across the river, through a neighborhood, and across a highway and a few more homes.
The slide occurred at 11 AM on a Saturday, so many residents may not have been home...imagine it at 11 PM on a weeknight with everyone at home and in bed.
This is the best photo I could find depicting the scope of the primary slide
My heart goes out to those in your area. It’s got to be such a shock to everyone.
I seem to recall that one Love Creek home was buried with the occupant inside, and was left as is and is now a gravesite.
Except when it gets sucked up in the air by tornados.
I was looking at google earth the other night, and that area showed a small slide in the 90’s, and a moderate slide in 2004 (that blocked the river). Eerie to see the slides get bigger and the development gets larger too. I am sure that area was known by locals and experts to have the potential to be bad. Knowledge doesn’t do much good unless it gets down to the people making the decisions to build or buy a home in some areas. Although I believe this is probably one of the largest landslides to have ever occurred in Washington.
In hindsight it is like sitting yourself down in front of a loaded gun.
After the slide in 2006 extensive work was done to stabilize the slope. The engineers thought the problem was solved.
Not only did everyone think the problem was solved, no one could imagine a slide this big even if it were NOT solved.
Guess they were wrong. Big time.
“no one could imagine a slide this big”
Agreed. And in everything we do it takes some type of risk assessment. “Can I cross the road in time” can vary depending on if it is a bike or 18-wheeler coming down on you. And the risk of floods, earthquakes, etc.
Death toll now at 14.
The size of this slide is massive.
Tragic. And very sad.
That’s an excellent local update.
Prayers to the victim’s family. Hope the missing are safe.
The biggest catastrophe waiting to happen in Washington state is the residential development of all the valleys west of Mt. Rainier.
A major earthquake or eruption could instantly melt billions of tons of ice and snow and could potentially kill thousands of people.
I’ve read reports that claim the run off could reach all the way to Tacoma and Olympia.
I believe more than one. Some were under 100 feet of dirt and mud. It would have been hazardous to try to try to dig them out, so no effort was made. There are now memorial markers there for those buried in the disaster.
I suspect something similar may happen now in Washington.
Without massive support structures built deep into the ground (to, and anchored in solid rock), any hillside is prone to slide if it is disturbed enough and/or it collects enough moisture.
Slide events this big happen daily in the Northwest during the rainy season, just not usually in suburban residential enclaves such as this. But, particularly as the Portland and Seattle areas have expanded in population and the semi-rural hills have become the new suburbia, we will see them more often.
Already happened in 1980 with Mt. St. Helens. A huge swath of landscape from the west slope all the way down through the Lewis and Toutle drainages to the Columbia River was drastically altered. Could have been much worse but still, a lot of places along I-5 where we used to look down, now we look up (and vice-versa).
Tacoma for sure, as it has in the past. I have heard of contractors having trouble putting in sewer pipes and stuff due to all of the logs in their new development. Logs that are in the old mudflows that are 20 - 30 feet thick. The most recent being about 500 years ago.
Excellent point. Will sadly make this landslide look small. However, they are increasing their monitoring of Mt. Rainier, and do more drills and planning for fast evacuations up to high ground. So hopefully that will work well when it occurs.
Here’s a link to a good article on the history of the area. I guess the idea of nobody could imagine a slide this big is wrong. Numerous studies, beginning in 1949, indicate they knew this had the potential for a large event.
Very interesting link. Thanks for posting.
The article makes the point that engineers SHOULD have known this was a dangerous area, at least according to some experts. Obviously the experts who warned of the danger were ignored. The people who lived there thought it was safe, as did (apparently) all of the people who have been giving news conferences the last few days.
Interestingly, the escarpment on the slide this week was 600 feet high (!), four times higher than the previous high for this spot. I have to wonder if the efforts to shore up the slope kept it from having a series of smaller slides that would have periodically relieved the stress, with a single, much bigger slide as the end result.
I’m not surprised people wanted to build there. It is an amazingly beautiful area. Plus you can fish from your backyard. Salmon and steelhead. What’s not to like?
We live in a similar place, including fishing from our backyard. We love our location although it is not quite as scenic. Our house is way above the flood plain, and it would take a slide similar to the one at Oso to reach us.
Update on the death toll: They have now found 14 bodies, and the missing person list is up to 176. Hopefully some of the missing people will turn up, but it’s clear a whole lot of people died.
“I have to wonder if the efforts to shore up the slope kept it from having a series of smaller slides that would have periodically relieved the stress, with a single, much bigger slide as the end result.”
Good point - perhaps. Although I think the slide in 2006(?) released a lot of material that had been helping to hold up the recent slide zone. More than what a “little” wall could make up for. The new wall sounds like it was designed to keep soil material from getting into the river and messing up the fish habitat, rather than trying to contain the major slide.