USGS warns of landslide dangers with Isabel

USGS warns of landslide dangers with Isabel

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The U.S. Geological Survey warned state and federal agencies about the increased potential for landslides in the mountainous regions of Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and New York due to rainfall from Hurricane Isabel.

“Given the wet soil conditions we already have in many of these areas, the risk of fast-moving landslides is significant,” Wieczorek said. “Residents in landslide-prone areas and anyone in mountainous areas should be aware of the warning signs and be prepared to move quickly.”

USGS geologist and landslide expert Gerald Wieczorek said that intense rains have triggered landslides in the area before. The slope of the land, the type of geology, ground saturation and rainfall intensity all play major roles in landslide formation. As a rule of thumb, Wieczorek said, more than 2.75 inches of rain per hour for 2 hours; more than 2 inches of rain per hour for 4 hours; or more than 1.5 inches of rain per hour for 6 hours could trigger landslides in mountainous areas.

“Landslides are powerful,” Wieczorek said. “People living in these areas should be aware of the danger during severe weather and be ready to act if the situation warrants.”