This story was originally published by High Country News and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.
An hour before sundown on December 2, Lilly Ford and her family heard a “strange, low rumble” outside of her home in Haines, Alaska. It lasted about a minute as a 600-foot-wide slurry of timber, mud, soil, and debris cascaded down a nearby mountain, through a residential area, and into the ocean. “I couldn’t believe the mountain had swept people and houses away just like that — ripped the ground out from under them,” Ford said. “It’s just not something you’d ever anticipate.”
Haines, population 2,500, saw more than 8 inches of rainfall during the first two days of December — a total that topped the monthly average by 2 inches. Hundreds of homes on this mountainous peninsula between two inlets and the Canadian border were damaged by floods and debris flows. About 50 households were ordered to evacuate because of landslide danger, and still others were displaced by flooding. A kindergarten teacher and a local businessman are presumed dead.
Landslides are a growing threat as warm, heavy rain storms — intensified by climate change — flush ro... Read more