UNION GAP, Wash. – Geologists are sharing new information about a major land crack on Rattlesnake Ridge near Yakima that continues to threaten a landslide.
The massive crack is widening about a foot and a half per week.
In a Facebook post, the Yakima Valley Office of Emergency Management said experts estimate ‘an event’ could happen anytime from Sunday, January 14th to February 28th.
The likely outcome, experts say, is that the land will continue to move slowly and will eventually fall into the rock quarry below.
Data suggests the accumulation will stay in the pit and on the hillside, but some rocks are expected to fall onto nearby Thorpe Road. The Dept. of Transportation has installed freight containers, each with thousands of pounds of concrete inside, to act as barriers between the road and any falling rocks.
The less likely scenario, geologists said Sunday, is a full landslide that would move beyond the quarry and damage homes and block roadways.
Washington’s Governor Jay Inslee visited the scene today, where he said the state is using the best technology available, and he is confident that geologists will be able to give ample warning in case of a ‘catastrophic event’
Fifteen homes could be damaged if that landslide does happen, and the people who live in those homes are still under Level 3 evacuation notices.
Those notices cover about 50 people. But, by law, residents cannot be forced out of their homes.
Partner station KAPP/KVEW in Tri Cities reports 40 of those people under evacuation notices have left their homes on their own.
Columbia Asphalt, the company that runs the rock quarry at one end of the crack, is providing housing to evacuees for the next five weeks, and will pay each of them one month’s rent.