West Seattle Weather Watch: On a slope? Be landslide-aware

(WSB photos by Ellen Cedergreen)
With November so far being rainier than average – never mind that still-out-there possibility of snow showers this weekend! – the city wants people in landslide-prone areas to be on high alert (here’s one way the risk is tracked). This morning, they invited the media to an Admiral home for a demonstration of landslide-preparedness do’s and don’ts. Ellen Cedergreen was there for WSB; she reports that, in the top photo, Seattle Public Utilities landslide expert Bill Benzer is demonstrating the importance of keeping drains cleared – stormwater that has no place to go can run down slopes, adding to the landslide risk. Clearing drains tops this list of what to do:

1. Maintain drainage system (pipes, ditches, etc., on your property and keep street drains free of leaves and debris.
2. Direct stormwater away from steep slopes, if possible.
3. Perform periodic inspections of property before winter and during storms, keeping safety as the #1 concern.
4. Check weep holes on walls and keep them open.
5. Be alert during and following storms.
6. If you have an irrigation system, shut if off and check it out seasonally.
7. Keep fill and yard waste off slopes.
8. Leave stumps in ground on slopes
9. Call a professional if you have questions or a problem.

Part of the drainage check – annually checking downspouts for blockages:

Meantime, the landslide “don’ts”:

1) Don’t direct storm or other water onto a slope
2) Don’t denude vegetation on slope without a re-vegetation plan
3) Don’t cut into the toe (or bottom) of a slope.
4) Don’t remove tree stumps from slopes.
5) Don’t install a permanent irrigation system in landslide-prone areas
6) Don’t put fill or yard debris on a steep slope.

According to a study discussed at today’s event, 86 percent of landslides have some human involvement: broken pipes, uncontrolled storm water, excavating and filling holes. The city is taking a more active role in prevention since 1996-1997, when more than 300 landslides were reported, and no matter what kind of winter weather you’re facing, be ready! From the “Take Winter by Storm” campaign, Cornell Amaya showed off his emergency-preparedness backpack:

What should be in your kit? Here are some ideas (and don’t forget all the great resources at West Seattle Be Prepared). And you can get more tips about landslide awareness and prevention by going to a free city-sponsored workshop (previously mentioned here) that’s coming up on December 4th at South Seattle Community College‘s Judge Warren and Nobie Chan Education Center (across from the north parking lot), 10 am-noon.

5 Replies to "West Seattle Weather Watch: On a slope? Be landslide-aware"

  • D.C. November 15, 2010 (3:30 pm)

    “1) Don’t direct storm of other water onto a slope”
    – I think “of” should be “or”

  • Robert November 15, 2010 (5:18 pm)

    My (Admiral District) home weather station registered a 39 mph gust at 4:30.

  • Marian November 15, 2010 (9:22 pm)

    How do you know if you’re on a landslide prone slope? It seems to me I once saw a topographical type map with different colored zones indicating risk of a slide. Any links?

  • Been There November 15, 2010 (9:46 pm)

    Marian – Go to DPD’s GIS page: http://web1.seattle.gov/dpd/maps/dpdgis.aspx

  • Marian November 16, 2010 (11:39 am)

    Thanks, Been There!
    I didn’t find a ready made map of slide zones, but you can look up your address here http://web1.seattle.gov/dpd/parceldata/

    and expand the ECA section to check your slide category.

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