Slow-Moving Landslide Threatens Wyoming Town

Resort town of Jackson in danger
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 19, 2014 12:16 PM CDT
This aerial image provided by Tributary Environmental shows a home damaged by a landslide in Jackson, Wyo.    (Uncredited)
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(Newser) – A slow-motion disaster continued unfolding in the Wyoming resort town of Jackson today, as a creeping landslide that split a hillside home threatened to swallow up more houses and businesses. The ground beneath the 100-foot hillside had been slowly giving way for almost two weeks before the downward movement accelerated in recent days. With rocks and dirt tumbling down, officials suspended efforts to shore up the slope and said they were uncertain what else could be done. "When is it going to go? How long is it going to last? These are the questions we just can't answer and they're what everyone wants to know," town spokeswoman Charlotte Reynolds said.

Experts say the hillside is unlikely to suddenly collapse like the March 22 landslide in Oso, Wash., that killed 39 people. More likely, large blocks of earth would tumble down piece by piece. But the threat is real and authorities are enforcing an evacuation order in hopes of avoiding injuries. Town officials first noticed significant hill movement April 4. They evacuated 42 homes and apartment units April 9. The ground had been moving at a rate of an inch a day but is expected to move increasingly faster as time goes on. The area of the landslide has been graded for roads and businesses in recent years, including a new Walgreens. That could have weakened the hillside, although the precise trigger remains under investigation.

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