Recent rains bring increased risks of landslides

SR 540 slide
The combination of weak, rain-soaked soils on sloped terrain led to this mud slide in January 2009 that scattered mud, rocks and other debris across State Route 542 east of Deming. Photo: WSDOT

Washington State’s climate , topography, and geology create a perfect setting for landslides, especially along our hillsides and shorelines. In Western Washington, most landslides happen in fall and winter, which is when we tend to get hit by big storms that bring heavy rainfall totals like those we’ve seen in the past couple of days. Our landslide hazard map, still in testing phase, shows the current risks based on recent rainfall totals.

DNR collects landslide data for several reasons. As the population of Washington grows, there are increasing pressures to develop housing and businesses in landslide-prone areas. Knowing the location of these landslide hazards has never been more important to public safety. 

DNR’s Geology and Earth Resources Division is helping to increase understanding of landslide processes in Washington State through numerous research projects. As the state’s official geological survey, DNR seeks to provide information about landslide risks that can help counties and citizen when making decisions about land use.

Help feed our growing database tracking landslides. If you see a landslide, please report it to DNR’s Division of Geology and Earth Resources. Be sure to also report any landslides that block roads, damage property, or threaten lives or property by calling local emergency services at 911.

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