Weather test coming for landslide work

by: Lee Stoll Updated:

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MUKILTEO, Wash. —

Heavy rain is raising the risk of landslides - especially north of Seattle.  The shoreline running to Everett was hit with a record number of slides two years in a row.

 "Especially underneath the deck, I've lost some,"  said Louise Uieda, as she looked at the slope behind her Mukilteo home.

 Neighbors along the cliffside road lost several feet of property to slides.  Part of Uieda’s backyard blew out last winter.

 "There was enough there that we didn't have to worry about falling over the edge,"  she said.

Down below, Burlington Northern Santa Fe and Washington State Department of  Transportation are working on a $16.1 million plan to shore up the waterfront by removing unstable debris, increasing drainage and building stabilization walls. 

They identified six trouble spots and recently completed work on two of them - one on the south end of Mukilteo, the other on the south end of Everett.

Last season, there were 200 major slides.  This season, there have only been ten.

"I think that we have a stronger awareness of where those hot spots are.  We've been talking about them for years," said John Pennington, director of Snohomish County’s Department of Emergency Management.

Pennington says a dry end to 2013 helped keep slopes stable, but rain in January caused plenty of problems, like a road wash-out in Index.

"It’s a prone area.  It's steep,"  said Pennington.

Back in Mukilteo, several inches of rain in the forecast this week may be the first test for what the state is doing to prevent similar problems here.

"The forecast models are now saying we could have a wet spring that could go forever and ever.  For us, that means July Fourth,"  said Pennington.