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Earth Science

Geologists Warned of Washington State Mudslides For Decades 230

Posted by timothy
from the always-better-in-retrospect dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "The Seattle Times reports that since the 1950s, geological reports on the hill that buckled last weekend, killing at least 17 residents in Snohomish County in Washington State, have included pessimistic analyses and the occasional dire prediction. But no language seems more prescient than what appears in a 1999 report filed warning of 'the potential for a large catastrophic failure.' Daniel Miller, a geomorphologist, documented the hill's landslide conditions in a report written in 1997 for the Washington Department of Ecology and the Tulalip Tribes. Miller knows the hill's history, having collected reports and memos from the 1950s, 1960s, 1980s and 1990s and has a half-dozen manila folders stuffed with maps, slides, models and drawings, all telling the story of an unstable hillside that has defied efforts to shore it up. That's why he could not believe what he saw in 2006, when he returned to the hill within weeks of a landslide that crashed into and plugged the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River, creating a new channel that threatened homes on a street called Steelhead Drive. Instead of seeing homes being vacated, he saw carpenters building new ones. 'Frankly, I was shocked that the county permitted any building across from the river,' says Miller. 'We've known that it's been failing. It's not unknown that this hazard exists.'" (More, below.)
"The hill that collapsed is referred to by geologists with different names, including Hazel Landslide and Steelhead Haven Landslide, a reference to the hillside's constant movement. After the hill gave away in 1949, in '51, in '67, in '88, in 2006, residents referred to it simply as 'Slide Hill.' 'People knew that this was a landslide-prone area,' says John Pennington. Geomorphologist Tracy Drury said there were discussions over the years about whether to buy out the property owners in the area, but those talks never developed into serious proposals. 'I think we did the best that we could under the constraints that nobody wanted to sell their property and move.'"
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Geologists Warned of Washington State Mudslides For Decades

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  • Re:Crying wolf? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 29, 2014 @10:31AM (#46609759)
    And the hill slid FIVE TIMES during those decades, before the most recent slide. Definitely a case of crying wolf; how were the towns people supposed to realize the wolf was real after only seeing it five times?
  • by Ol Biscuitbarrel (1859702) on Saturday March 29, 2014 @03:02PM (#46611119)

    It's hell on Earth here! Raining at the moment! When it stops it'll go back to our 9 straight months of greyness! No jobs! Unless hack sacking weed smoking hippies who make careers out of pan handling count! Furious volcanoes! Floods! People being chased by landslides! [youtube.com] Don't move here! It sucks! Stay where you are! It's mostly just more pavement! Plus you can't pump your own gas! And you get a holy reaming on your property taxes! Here be dragons! And rabid beavers!

  • by taiwanjohn (103839) on Saturday March 29, 2014 @03:40PM (#46611339)

    Bullshit. [youtube.com] Even in the 70s, the consensus was already leaning heavily toward warming.

    A survey of climate science articles from '65 to '79 found seven that leaned toward global cooling, but they also found 44 articles on global warming over the same period. This notion of a "consensus" in the 70s about global cooling is simply a myth. The video linked above explains why and how. (Hint: the culprit is the media, not the scientists.)

    Here's a little "thought experiment" for you... Imagine a "typical" English or Journalism major from your college days. How would you rate their understanding of science and engineering issues? Now imagine that person is writing for, say, Time Magazine...

    Watch the video above to see how that works out. ;-)

If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants. -- Isaac Newton

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