Landslides

landslides

Seattle's landslide risk greater than thought

Landslides have been part of Seattle’s history “from a time to which the memory of man runneth not back,” wrote famed city engineer Reginald Thomson in 1897. A new study shows that landslides will also play a central role long into the future. They will be “extensive and potentially devastating, causing direct losses and impeding recovery,” reported a team in Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America.

17 Mar 2014

Benchmarks: May 12, 2008: Earthquake devastates western China

Just before 2:30 p.m. local time on May 12, 2008, a magnitude-7.9 earthquake shook Sichuan province in Western China. One eyewitness recalls seeing a mountain “blowing up” and boulders two-stories tall crashing into gorges. Another recalls thinking there had been a natural gas explosion, while a third described a hill split in half. It was the country’s largest earthquake in more than 50 years, and it left 18,000 people missing and presumed dead, nearly 375,000 injured and more than 69,000 confirmed fatalities. 
 
12 May 2013

Benchmarks: January 3–5, 1982: 18,000 landslides wreak havoc on the San Francisco Bay area

When a storm battered California’s San Francisco Bay Area in early January 1982, the rain was intense, but not without precedent. The region had historically endured heavy rains during the winter months, with individual storms sometimes bringing more than half the annual average rainfall in a single 36-hour span. But a collection of unique factors in 1982 created a recipe for a landslide disaster. First, two weather fronts merged, bringing copious amounts of rain to an already saturated region. Second, the rising population had resulted in a construction boom in the iconic hills of the Bay Area. During three days of relentless rain from Jan. 3–5, 1982, a record 18,000 individual landslides occurred, killing at least 25 people.
 
02 Jan 2012

Blogging on EARTH: First dispatches from EGU

EARTH’s Carolyn Gramling is taking in the European Geophysical Union meeting this week in Vienna, Austria. Here are some of the sessions that have caught her interest so far.

05 Apr 2011

Voices: Wildfires and debris flows: Federal mud

“Los Angeles weather is the weather of catastrophe, of apocalypse, and, just as the reliably long and bitter winters of New England determine the way life is lived there, so the violence and the unpredictability of the Santa Ana affect the entire quality of life in Los Angeles, accentuate its impermanence, its unreliability. The wind shows us how close to the edge we are.”

– Joan Didion, California author

01 Mar 2011

Hazardous Living: Preparing for the storm of the century

They’re calling it “California’s Other Big One” — the giant storm that could drop more than two meters of rain on California and cause massive flooding, landslides, levee failures and general catastrophic chaos. It’s probably not that hard to imagine this year for water-weary Californians who have been hit hard by heavy rains and subsequent floods and landslides since early winter.

21 Jan 2011

Slippery Slopes: How do we insure against landslides?

Feb. 5, 2010: A landslide in Maggie Valley, N.C., damages three homes after wet weather destabilizes the mountainside. No one is injured, but officials must dig out one family from its home. Feb. 6, 2010: A storm causes landslides in La Cañada Flintridge, Calif., damaging at least 43 homes. The event is set off by heavy winter rains that hit hillsides already denuded of vegetation by wildfires the previous summer. Feb. 6, 2010: City officials evacuate 11 families from their homes in Wheelwright, Ky., a month after a landslide began slowly ripping apart the hillside.

02 Jun 2010

Hazardous Living: Thirty years after Mount St. Helens exploded

Thirty years ago today, sometime not long after 8:30 a.m. Pacific time, Mount St. Helens explosively erupted. The shock wave from the eruption washed over Oregon and Washington, shaking the ground up to 400 kilometers away. Two earthquakes followed, at 8:32 and 8:34 a.m. Shortly thereafter, with a tremendous burst, the upper north flank gave way as gas, steam and ash vented outward and sent out an immense landslide of hot rock, mud, water, ash and debris.

18 May 2010

Guatemalan landslide kills 33

A landslide in northern Guatemala killed at least 33 people Sunday at about 10:30 a.m. local time. With between 40 and 60 people still missing, rescue attempts have been hampered by continual falling rock and threats of further landslides.

05 Jan 2009

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