Scientist Predicted Washington Hillside Failure in 1999

March 26, 2014

A scientist who documented the landslide conditions on a Washington hill that buckled last weekend in a massive mudslide warned in a 1999 report filed with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers of “the potential for a large catastrophic failure.”

The Seattle Times reports that report was written by Daniel J. Miller and his wife, Lynne Rodgers Miller. Daniel Miller told the newspaper, “We’ve known it would happen at some point.”

Daniel Miller studies land formations and their changes. He also documented the hill’s landslide conditions in a 1997 report for the Washington Department of Ecology and the Tulalip Tribes.

He says he returned to the Snohomish County hill in 2006 within weeks of a landslide that plugged the north fork of the Stillaguamish River and was startled to see new homes being built.

Snohomish County Executive John Lovick and Public Works Director Steve Thomsen said Monday night they were not aware of the 1999 report. Thomsen says a slide of this magnitude is “very difficult to predict.”

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