Share

Massive Mudslide Kills at Least 3, About 18 Missing

March 23, 2014

A rush of mud, trees and rocks swept over a small Washington community Saturday morning, killing at least three and leaving about 18 others missing. Even with so many still unaccounted for, rescue workers said that the situation was still too volatile to send individuals out onto mudflow they said was "like quicksand" to search for individuals.

Snohomish County Fire District 21 Chief Travis Hots told the Associated Press that "we suspect that people are out there, but it's far too dangerous to get responders out there on that mudflow."

So first responders have turned to helicopters to search for any signs of life, all while they try to figure out a way to get rescuers safely onto the mudflow.

Several people were critically injured and as many as 30 houses were destroyed by the slide, which was 60 feet deep in places. The flood of debris also prompted evacuations after it clogged the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River, leading water to rise rapidly behind the mass of earth.

One eyewitness told the Daily Herald that he was driving on the roadway and had to quickly brake to avoid the mudslide.

"I just saw the darkness coming across the road. Everything was gone in three seconds," Paulo Falcao told the newspaper.

According to Jonathan Erdman, senior meteorologist for weather.com, western Washington experienced an abundance of wet weather in March. "Through March 21, Seattle was only 0.69 inches away from tying their wettest March on record, set in 1950," said Erdman.

Authorities believe that slide was caused by ground water saturation from that recent spell of wet weather. John Pennington from the Snohomish County Department of Emergency Management said the area has a history of unstable land. He said a slide also happened there in 2006.

Pennington said the most recent incident happened without warning.

"This slide came out of nowhere," he said.

Authorities urged members of communities downstream from the clogged river to evacuated amidst flooding concerns, but said that they could return to their homes during daylight hours Sunday.

The National Weather Service issued a flash flood watch for Snohomish County through Sunday afternoon, but cataclysmic flooding wasn't expected.

Below are photos gathered from social media:

MORE: Washington Mudslide

The first trooper on the scene tries to help. (Photo: Trooper Mark Francis, Washington State Patrol District 7 PIO for Snohomish, Skagit, Whatcom & Island counties.)

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.


Featured Blogs

A Record Early Start to Typhoon Season: Maysak the 3rd Typhoon of 2015

By Dr. Jeff Masters
March 30, 2015

It's been a record early start to typhoon season in the Western Pacific, where Category 2 Typhoon Maysak, with top sustained winds of 100 mph as of 8 pm EDT Sunday, is gathering strength in the waters a few hundred miles east of Yap State in the Caroline Islands. Maysak is already the third typhoon of the year, setting a record for the most typhoons so early in the year.

Possible New Continental Heat Record for Antarctica

By Christopher C. Burt
March 26, 2015

On March 24th Base Esperanza (under Argentinean administration) located near the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula reported a temperature of 17.5°C (63.5°F). Although this is the warmest temperature ever measured since weather stations became established on the southern continent, it is complicated by what the very definition of ‘Antarctica’ is. Here’s a brief review.

Devastating Drought Conditions and Annoying People

By Shaun Tanner
February 4, 2015

The drought in California has been pretty devastating and at least some of the people of California seem to be happy about it.

Meteorological images of the year - 2014

By Stu Ostro
December 30, 2014

My 9th annual edition.

2013-14 - An Interesting Winter From A to Z

By Tom Niziol
May 15, 2014

It was a very interesting winter across a good part of the nation from the Rockies through the Plains to the Northeast. Let's break down the most significant winter storms on a month by month basis.

What the 5th IPCC Assessment Doesn't Include

By Angela Fritz
September 27, 2013

Melting permafrost has the potential to release an additional 1.5 trillion tons of carbon into the atmosphere, and could increase our global average temperature by 1.5°F in addition to our day-to-day human emissions. However, this effect is not included in the IPCC report issued Friday morning, which means the estimates of how Earth's climate will change are likely on the conservative side.