With deadly mudslides affecting rural portions of Washington State at the time of this writing, you have to wonder what’s next with weather changes being so common. While it’s a mystery what initially caused the mudslides in Washington, it’s clear that an overabundance of rain and snow doesn’t help. When coupled with the influx of housing built in higher elevations, there may be a realization soon that building above sea level is going to become too high of an insurance risk.
Even if that means more housing developments in flatter areas of land, those who currently live in hilltop areas could be extra vulnerable. And because loss of life is more than possible, some subtle (and not so subtle) signs of an imminent landslide or mudslide need to be scoped out. It’s worth examining your property during the rainy seasons to notice any slight changes both outside and inside your home.
Look around the property of your home and examine if you have any leaning trees on slopes or storm-water drainage stacking up. Sometimes a small mudslide might be visible, which is a precursor to a much larger one about to happen. Also, take a look around paved areas outside your home and see if you have signs of cracking that’s widening daily. This could be a very dangerous sign of the ground about to give way.
Check for other tilting objects around your property if they rest on a slope. Things like fences or poles that appear to be tilting more prominently each day means you should probably evacuate with your family. The same can be said of any steps attached to your home that look like they’re pulling away from your house.
Another sure sign that can be more obvious: A bulge appearing in the ground near the edge of a slope. That entire slope may be on the verge of a collapse any day, which may take your home with it if the home is built nearby.
But if none of these signs occur, there could be signs on the inside of your home that may be extreme or subtle.
A subtle sign inside your home is when a door suddenly sticks or a window jams. If this just comes on out of the blue without any explanation, you may write it off as being related to the weather. It could be a sign that your home is about to be carried away in a landslide. Cracks in the plaster of your wall can also be a sign that the ground is starting to slowly give way and putting a strain on your home’s structure.
It’s worth noting that while sight inspections can sometimes turn up clues to probable landslides, sounds can be some of the best evidence of all. Slight rumbling sounds are known to take place just right before a landslide takes place. If you hear any immediate sounds like this, get your family away from there and to a safe place as soon as you can.
The same applies to cracking sounds in your outdoor trees or any sounds of nearby boulders hitting one another as a sign a debris stream is already starting. Once that debris starts moving, it could turn into an accelerated mudslide moving as fast as 35 mph.
These tactics in keeping your eyes and ears open will have to be a mainstream activity for those owning homes in higher elevations. As weather changes occur, we’ll probably have to include mudslides along with potholes and sinkholes as increased natural disasters worthy of being placed in new disaster movies.