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Recent Northwest Storms Bring Higher Risk For Landslides

Washington Dept. of Natural Resources
A county-by-county map from Tuesday shows the growing danger of landslides in Washington state.

Washington and Oregon geologists are warning residents of a higher risk for landslides than usual this week. Several storms moving through the region have quickly drenched steep slopes.

There have been more than a dozen muddy slides this week in Oregon. Some cut off road access or happened near homes.

Oregon state geologist Bill Burns said he’s keeping close watch for more -- especially on highways near Mt. Hood and along I-84 through the Columbia River Gorge. He added that another heavy storm is on its way.

“And that has got us very concerned,” Burns said. “The soils are already wet and now we are going to have another big punch of precipitation and it’s just going to be too much for the soils.”

In Oregon, Washington and Idaho, experts are keeping an especially close eye on on burned areas that don’t absorb water as easily. Ash and mud can quickly run downhill with little vegetation to hold it back.

Geologists are also watching silt-heavy areas near Puget Sound like Whidbey Island.

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.