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00000179-65ef-d8e2-a9ff-f5ef8dd70000In early October 2017, large cracks were spotted on the ground at Rattlesnake Ridge, a hillside about three miles south of Yakima, Washington. By January, the cracks had widened and emergency officials became concerned that a major landslide could imminent.Around 50 residents who lived on a small tract of land at the bottom of the hillside were evacuated and officials prepared for the worst.By the end of the month, geologists and engineers concluded that the landslide was a slow moving one and the risk of a major, catastrophic slide was low. Warning signs were taken down and residents were allowed to return to their homes.

Rattlesnake Ridge Slide Is Hard To Predict For Geologists ?

Anna King
Washington Department of Natural Resources Landslide Hazards Geologist Trevor Contreras says the slide at Rattlesnake Ridge is moving at a constant rate--and that makes it difficult to predict when it might totally let go.

After huge cracks appeared on Rattlesnake Ridge last year, geologists expect a landslide is coming at the mountain near Yakima, Washington. But they are having a hard time nailing down just when it will go.

Trevor Contreras is a hazards geologist for Washington State Department of Natural Resources. At a press conference Friday, he said the Rattlesnake Ridge landslide is moving about 3 inches per day—about 1.7 feet per week.

But since that movement is so consistent, it creates a weird problem for those watching the slide. There aren’t many clues as to when the slide might totally let go. ?

“It’s not speeding up, it’s not accelerating,” Contreras said. “Because it’s not accelerating—and going such a constant rate—we are projecting that the main event window is hard to determine.”

Contreras said they thought the event would happen from mid-January to mid-March, but now they might push that timeframe out.


Anna King calls Richland, Washington home and loves unearthing great stories about people in the Northwest. She reports for the Northwest News Network from a studio at Washington State University, Tri-Cities. She covers the Mid-Columbia region, from nuclear reactors to Mexican rodeos.