Mar
26
2014

1999 geology study warned of Washington mudslide

Mudslide inundates mailbloxes
Mudslide inundates mailbloxesCourtesy Public domain via Wikipedia
The deadly mudslide that occurred last Saturday in Washington state should not have surprised people living in the area, at least according to a 1999 report. Fifteen years ago, in a study commissioned by the US Army Corps of Engineers, geomorphologist Daniel Miller warned that a "large catastrophic failure" was likely in the area, 55 miles northeast of Seattle. Recent heavy rains have saturated the bluff above the floodplain of the Stillaguamish river, near the towns of Oso and Darrington, and a square mile of the slope suddenly collapsed Saturday morning wiping out several houses and covering a mile of State Route 530 with mud and debris, some to depths of 15 feet.

Local officials claim it was entirely unforeseen (a minor earthquake has been suggested) but history shows the area suffered a flood in 1933 and two previous mudslides, one in 1967, and another as recently as 2006. Despite that, development continued in the river's floodplain.

The death toll from this tragedy continues to rise, and, as of today, some 175 people are still missing.

SOURCES
Reuters
USA Today

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