Tom Williams / CQ-Roll Call, Inc.
The first to notice the growing crack at Rattlesnake Ridge was a local pilot, in October.
Since then, geologists have been monitoring the area in Washington State and report that 4 million cubic yards of land have been moved. Only a couple of months, faster than expected.
As reported by Anna King of the Northwest News Network, nearby residents "weigh discouraging options: leave home and home, or stay and risk their lives"
Residents said The Seattle Times were persecuted for what happened in Bear, Washington, in 2014, where 43 people died and dozens of houses were destroyed. Brian White, one of the state Department of Transportation administrators told reporter Erik Lacitis: "Everyone thinks about that."
Geologists do not agree on how large the Rattlesnake Ridge landslide will be, and whether it will accelerate and grow, or stabilize. David Montgomery, professor of geomorphology at the University of Washington, studies landslides, and says "this is very interesting".
"It still moves pretty slow," says Montgomery. "It is a geological material very different from the one we had in the tragic collapse of Bear in 2014." However, he adds that Bear was also considered a "low probability" event. "They are trying to assess, what is the worst possible scenario?"
The "worst case scenario", it seems, is that the landslide could begin to move much more quickly. If that happened, it could affect the infrastructure, including the highway that crosses the Yakima Valley.
Such predictions have alarmed residents living in the quarry at the bottom of Rattlesnake Ridge. The Seattle Times reported Sunday that many have evacuated to motels. The Yakima Valley Emergency Management Office is looking for foster homes for displaced animals, including eight small dogs and 100 chickens.
"I think they are quite conservative in their response," says Montgomery about geologists. working on the case. "They should have a good idea of how the landslide is evolving and be able to assess how the nature of the hazard may be changing."