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Washington State Tragedy Time and Unforseen Occurance

 
 
Reply Tue 25 Mar, 2014 12:17 pm
It was a pleasant day for western Washington on Saturday March 22. My daughter and son in law decided on a drive to visit the scenic town of Darrington, about 60 miles northeast of Seattle. They drove East of Arlington on State Route 530 at about 9 am. They were long past the small town of Oso by 11 am when tragedy struck in a matter of seconds. A full square mile of hillside broke loose and obliterated the homes on Steelhead lane, dammed the Stilliguamish River and covered a mile of the highway they had only recently traversed. The speed was amazing. No one could have outrun it. When rain soaked ground gives way, whatever soil that may have granted stability to the slope suddenly becomes as liquid. It was just as if a huge lake suddenly tipped over, creating a tsunami of mud, burying all in its path.

So far, fourteen bodies have been found; but well over 100 are still unaccounted for. Saturday morning, kids out of school, pleasant day, pancakes for breakfast, maybe go to Seattle or Everett later on, but first, relax, take it easy, and then . . .And nobody knows how many cars may have been traveling that mile long stretch of highway. I'm so happy my loved ones escaped. But at the same time I am deeply saddened by the ones lost. I have traveled that road many times for business interests in Darrington. I believe, when the list of victims is finalized, I will recognize too many of the names.
http://pbs.twimg.com/media/BjXVvUaCUAAbVmY.jpg:medium
The mud, with the consistency of quicksand was, in some places, over 15 feet deep.
http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/dam/assets/140323085004-02-landslide-0323-horizontal-gallery.jpghttp://media.komonews.com/images/140324_slide_lg_01.jpg

 
rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Tue 25 Mar, 2014 12:29 pm
@neologist,
It's hard to imagine things like this. I've never even seen a "live" landslide, only Youtube clips.

Glad you and your family were not caught in it, and hopefully most people were elsewhere at that unfortunate moment.
neologist
 
  1  
Reply Tue 25 Mar, 2014 12:43 pm
@rosborne979,
Wednesday morning, kids would be in school
Saturday afternoon, folks would be in Everett or Mount Vernon.
0 Replies
 
Lordyaswas
 
  1  
Reply Tue 25 Mar, 2014 01:00 pm
@neologist,
This brings back memories of Aberfan all over again.

A terrible tragedy.
neologist
 
  1  
Reply Tue 25 Mar, 2014 01:31 pm
@Lordyaswas,
Just looked that up. Awful. And we never forget.
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 25 Mar, 2014 01:55 pm
And memories of the opening of the book, On Suspect Terrain, by John McPhee - that opening tale really got to me, and that was quite a while ago. I just checked, 1983. I think that was it - it was one of series of five books on geology, and started out with the story of a mudslide in the Los Angeles area.

http://us.macmillan.com/insuspectterrain/JohnMcPhee

I remember that I talked about the book once here, and Farmerman had some concerns re McPhee's writing/contents, McPhee not being a geologist but a writer, and that's true.

0 Replies
 
izzythepush
 
  1  
Reply Tue 25 Mar, 2014 03:50 pm
At least yours are safe. And there's still some idiots who deny Global warming.
farmerman
 
  2  
Reply Tue 25 Mar, 2014 05:34 pm
@izzythepush,



The valleys of the Cascades have all been reported on and classified by slide potential and mass wasting with warnings . Several areas have been clearly identified with conditions which should be considered for slope cutting and building. This was such an area.
The problem is that everyone thinks that these USGS people are conehead academics who just write papers for publication. I know several west Coaststate, and USGS geomorphologists, geophysicists and vulcanologists who are always at public meetings warning people about possible occurences like this. Its impossible to predict when an event will occur .

neologist
 
  1  
Reply Tue 25 Mar, 2014 06:21 pm
@farmerman,
This was in the area of a previous (2006) slide. At least one geologist warned about building in the area. Still, no one could have predicted a slide this large. More bodies recovered today. I don't know the count yet. No list of victims; but some familiar last names among the rescuers, no doubt children or other young relatives of ones I know.
Butrflynet
 
  1  
Reply Tue 25 Mar, 2014 06:38 pm
On Al Jazeera America they had a local geologist on this evening. He said he thought it had to do with the bend of the river eroding the lateral structure of the mountain below the area. He also said they had a minor earthquake in the area about 12 days ago that may have added to the mountainside's weakness and it didn't take much to trigger the slide.


0 Replies
 
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Tue 25 Mar, 2014 07:11 pm
@neologist,
Quote:
Still, no one could have predicted a slide this large.
I think it will come out that "large mass wastings" were probable, just the time was incalculable . Trouble is nobody listens when they have some desire for a summer home in the foothills of the cascades.

We should take a look at all the other concave areas that denoted old slide zones . Its all a matter of considering areas most active topographically.
farmerman
 
  2  
Reply Tue 25 Mar, 2014 07:24 pm
@farmerman,
I don't mean to be a noodge but the landslide potential can be realized by seeing the concave detrital field just to the right of the recent slide. This was a past slide . It is good that the river below is again flowing through the debris because that will allo subsurface water to drain by gravity and will help to restore a "stickiness" to the debris and will help it establish a suitable angle of repose.

    http://news.bbcimg.co.uk/media/images/73787000/jpg/_73787689_021654770.jpg
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Tue 25 Mar, 2014 07:51 pm
@neologist,
In a few interviews on the CBC tonight, there was discussion about recent earth movement and an earthquake - and warnings that were ignored.
neologist
 
  1  
Reply Tue 25 Mar, 2014 09:05 pm
@farmerman,
That's a good pic of the previous slide. If it could be extended at the bottom, highway 530 would be a ways further down the image and the affected homes would be between the river and the highway. Saturday's event was considerably larger.
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Tue 25 Mar, 2014 09:22 pm
http://www.theguardian.com/world/video/2014/mar/25/washington-landslide-devastation-aerial-footage-video
0 Replies
 
izzythepush
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 Mar, 2014 01:42 am
@farmerman,
we've had a lot of landslides on the South Coast this Winter, fortunately it's all been damage to property, but there's been considerable disruption, and one of the main rail lines was cut off.

If you have a huge amount of rain in a short period of time this happens.
farmerman
 
  2  
Reply Wed 26 Mar, 2014 07:32 am
@izzythepush,
lotsa times the way we construct embankments can actually exacerbate the problem that's within the soil. In California they've cut into the dip slopes of rock and sediment layers leaving a plane of slippage pointing down at the road. Then, because they know its stupid, they put screw bolts into the soil and rock as if that will hold the megatons of material.
All you need is one good wetting cycle and the whole wall is like a waterslide.
farmerman
 
  2  
Reply Wed 26 Mar, 2014 07:41 am
@neologist,
mine is a satellite image. Its the sat slide from space.
The previous slide is to the right and you can see the "notch pek" that separates the slide zones. This whole area will remain in a non equilibrium state till the whole mass attains a stable slope for this kind of material mix.

They knew, they still issue building permits under pressure form politicos with connections. I feel sorry for the loss of life but totally frustrated when good advice is ignored and even in the aftermath is argued that "no one could have known" ll you hve to do is look at the state natural hazards maps , its something the building industries have helped pay for.
However, in some defense, I did notice that this area had been developed for over 50 years. So back then, Id give the benny of the doubt.
0 Replies
 
parados
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 Mar, 2014 07:44 am
@farmerman,
News reports this morning are talking about the study done in 1999 that predicted slides in that area.

Quote:
The 1999 report by geomorphologist Daniel Miller raises questions about why residents were allowed to build homes in the area and whether officials had taken proper precautions.

"I knew it would fail catastrophically in a large-magnitude event," though not when it would happen, said Miller, who was hired by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to do the study. "I was not surprised."
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 Mar, 2014 07:45 am
@farmerman,
Two years ago, I've watched one landslide (nearly) live in Austria: I saw the result, stayed on the other side of that valley.
http://i1334.photobucket.com/albums/w641/Walter_Hinteler/a_zps39003ec9.jpg
 

 
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