Mudslides nothing new along railroad tracks north of Seattle

landslides a plenty
The green sections of the map (indicated by red arrows) show the sites of previous landslides along the BNSF route north of Seattle.

Let’s see… it’s winter and mudslides keep coming down on BNSF-owned railroad tracks between Seattle and Everett. The impact is felt especially by Amtrak Cascades and Sounder Northline passengers — passenger service is halted for at least 48 hours after a slide.

The latest series of slides should not come as a complete surprise: slopes along this stretch of track are steep, unstable, and have a history of failure. Plus, this is the time of year when saturating rains move across Western Washington. Slides like the ones along the tracks north of Seattle (one was caught on amateur video) are typically caused by intense or prolonged rainfall that soaks thin soils lying atop an impenetrable substrate and weak rock joints — prime conditions for slope failure.

DNR’s mapping of landslides shows that the coastal rail route north of Seattle has a history of mudslides (see the green areas marked on the map). We document landslides to help citizens, industry and government agencies to understand landslide risks at a location so they can take steps to protect people and property from harm.

Use our ‘Landslides of Washington State‘ look-up tool to find other documented landslides.

Lend us a hand by reporting landslides. You can file your landslide reports online.

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