Experts: Landslides in E. Washington not likely without lots of rain



Posted on March 26, 2014 at 1:55 PM

Updated Wednesday, Mar 26 at 1:55 PM

SPOKANE, Wash.--Geological experts said landslides in the Inland Northwest happen every year, but are not on the same scale as the one that happened in March in Snohomish County.

Experts said enough rain  could cause a landslide on steep slopes in the region.

Spokane County has marked thousands of areas as geologically hazardous zones.    

“Typically most of the landslides that we have here are pretty small in nature,” said Geotechnical engineer Jim Harakas.

The areas in Brown are near steep hills and sometimes creeks. Experts said if a landslide happened, it would likely be in similar places along Hangman Valley and on the South Hill. Experts also said a landslide could happen near Strong Road and Indian Trail in North Spokane.

 Neighbors living at the bottom of that slope said they were not worried. They said even if the hill were to give, they do not think it would reach their homes.

“I don't think it's going to happen. Plus, I don't think it will rain like Seattle does,” said Pat Wearnuth.

Harakas said there are small landslides in North Idaho every year.

 “You have quite a few here in Eastern Washington as well as in North Idaho, any place you have steeply sloping terrain you might not have water involved,” said Harakas.

There was a large landslide in 1998 in Bonners Ferry over Highway 95.

Experts said big landslides are rare in the Inland Northwest because the area does not get a large amount of rain.

“Our area gets about half of the rainfall as Western Washington and the soil types are different,” said Harakas.

Developers in geo-hazardous areas can still build there but they have to follow safety guidelines.

Spokane County does not inspect potential landslide areas. They do go over every application for new developments to make sure the requirements are met in order to live there.