Washington mudslide highlights lack of slide area monitoring

By on April 8, 2014

Aerial survey of the Washington mudslide aftermath (Credit: King County Sheriff's Office)

A disastrous Washington mudslide on March 25 showcased a fatal lack of slide area monitoring, CTV News reported.

While natural disasters such as floods and tornadoes are tracked by various governmental entities, no national network exists to warn of imminent landslides. Although Congress ordered the U.S. Geological Survey’s Landslide Hazards Program to develop such a system over a decade ago, the project has fallen flat due to lack of staff and budget.

Experts suggest that that constructing a national landslide monitoring system would take more than a decade, even with state and city-level cooperation. Costs would likely exceed tens of millions of dollars every year.

Landslides account for up to $2 billion in annual losses, and between 25 and 50 deaths each year.

 Image: Aerial survey of the Washington mudslide aftermath (Credit: King County Sheriff’s Office)

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