... Public information statement for seasonal landslide awareness
The appalachian mountain region is one the most susceptible regions
in the United States for significant landslide activity according to
the United States geologic survey (usgs). Research has shown that
extreme rainfall of 5 to 10 inches or more within 24 hours...
especially when combined with already saturated soil conditions... can
result in deadly landslide activity in our mountainous terrain. This
is most likely when the remnants of tropical storms or hurricanes
interact with the Appalachian Mountains... usually during the mid-
Summer through mid-autumn period. Examples of catastrophic events
where many lives were lost and structures were destroyed include
August 1940 in northwest North Carolina... and remnants of hurricane
Camille in August 1969 in west- central Virginia. However landslides
can also occur on smaller scales from intense rainfall associated
with slow-moving thunderstorm complexes... or during heavy rainfall on
top of snow cover or saturated ground in the winter.
Landslides... which can include fast-moving debris flows consisting
of water... mud... Falling Rocks... trees... and other large debris...
are most likely on steep slopes and within small valleys that drain
steep slopes. Landslides are powerful... and are capable of washing
out roads... bridges... and homes. People living in areas prone to
landslides should be aware of the danger and be prepared to act.
Below are some recommended actions to consider taking both ahead of
the storm and when it begins.
Before the storm:
* become familiar with the land around you. Learn whether
landslides have occurred in your area. Slopes where landslides
have occurred in the past are likely to experience them in the
* Check with local authorities to learn about emergency response
and evacuation plans for your area... and develop your own
emergency plans for your family and business.
* Watch the hillsides around your home for signs of land
movement... such as cracks in soil and building foundations... or
progressively tilting trees.
* If you know you live in a location prone to landslides...
consider heading to a safer location before the heavy rain
begins. This generally means moving to higher ground... away from
streams... rivers... and also steep slopes. Seek a sturdy shelter
if possible such as a well-built home... church... or school.
* When a period of very heavy rainfall with an enhanced threat for
landslides is anticipated 12 to 48 hours in advance... the
National Weather Service will include specific call-to-action
statements within flash flood watches (wbcffarnk).
During the storm:
* avoid driving near steep slopes or crossing stream valleys.
Never try to drive across a flooded Road.
* Immediately move away from steep slopes and small streams in
steep valleys. Seek Refuge on higher ground away from
streams... preferably in a sturdy shelter.
* Stay alert. Many landslide fatalities occur when people are
sleeping. Keep tuned to NOAA Weather Radio or local media for
the latest warnings and statements. Be aware that short intense
bursts of rainfall are particularly dangerous.
* Listen for unusual sounds that might indicate moving debris...
such as trees cracking or boulders knocking together. A trickle
of flowing mud or debris may precede a much larger and dangerous
flow. Head to higher ground immediately. Save yourself... not
* When there is believed to be an imminent threat for flash
flooding with an enhanced risk for widespread landslide
activity... the National Weather Service will include specific
call-to-action statements within flash flood warnings
For more information on landslides and preparedness... visit
For the latest forecasts... watches and warnings from the National
Weather Service... visit weather.Gov/Blacksburg... or stay tuned to
NOAA Weather Radio.