Deadly mudslides not as likely in E. Washington



Posted on March 25, 2014 at 6:53 PM

Updated Tuesday, Mar 25 at 7:00 PM

SPOKANE, Wash.--Landslides like the one that devastated western Washington are less likely to happen in eastern Washington, though they are still possible according to experts.  

The chances of a landslides increase near steep slopes like the edge of the South Hill in Spokane. Experts said different conditions in Eastern Washington made a landslide less likely to happen.

READ: Search for landslide survivors intensifies

The devastating landslide in Oso is an example of what can happen when wet weather is mixed with tall hillsides.

“They are very frequent in western Washington, where you have steeply sloping terrain and prodigious amounts of rainfall,” said Jim Harakas with GeoEngineers.

The stretch of the South Hill that faces Highway 195 on the western side has a dramatic drop, however the chances of a large landslide in the area are low. Spokane gets about half the amount of rain as western Washington and has different soil.

"Typically most of the landslides that we have here are pretty small in nature,” said Harakas.

Experts said it is hard to tell if the homes high above or those built below steep slopes are more likely to be at risk. It depends on the conditions of the locations and the construction of the homes according to experts.

"You can destabilize a hillside just by digging at the bottom and you might not have any water involved,” said Harakas.

One of the largest landslides in eastern Washington was above Latah Creek. Experts said erosion, ground water and maybe even storm water were possible factors in creating that landslide.