Wake County Hazard Mitigation Plan - January 2020


4.5.6 Landslide

Hazard Background A landslide is the downhill movement of masses of soil and rock, driven by gravity. Landslides occur when susceptible rock, earth, or debris moves down a slope under the force of gravity and water. They can be triggered by natural changes, such as heavy rains, snow melt, fires, and earthquakes; and human-caused changes, such as slope or drainage modifications. Landslides may be very small or very large and can move at slow to very high speeds. There are several types of landslides: rock falls, rock topple, slides, and flows. Rock falls are rapid movements of bedrock, which result in bouncing or rolling. A topple is a section or block of rock that rotates or tilts before falling to the slope below. Slides are movements of soil or rock along a distinct surface of rupture, which separates the slide material from the more stable underlying material. Mudflows, sometimes referred to as mudslides, mudflows, lahars or debris avalanches, are fast-moving rivers of rock, earth, and other debris saturated with water. They develop when water rapidly accumulates in the ground, such as heavy rainfall or rapid snowmelt, changing the soil into a flowing river of mud or “slurry.” Slurry can flow rapidly down slopes or through channels and can strike with little or no warning at avalanche speeds. Slurry can travel several miles from its source, growing in size as it picks up trees, cars, and other materials along the way. As the flows reach flatter ground, the mudflow spreads over a broad area where it can accumulate in thick deposits. Landslides are typically associated with periods of heavy rainfall or rapid snow melt and tend to worsen the effects of flooding that often accompanies these events. In areas burned by forest and brush fires, a lower threshold of precipitation may initiate landslides. Some landslides move slowly and cause damage gradually, whereas others move so rapidly that they can destroy property and take lives suddenly and unexpectedly. Areas that are generally prone to landslide hazards include previous landslide areas, the bases of steep slopes, the bases of drainage channels, and developed hillsides where leach-field septic systems are used. Areas that are typically considered safe from landslides include areas that have not moved in the past, relatively flat-lying areas away from sudden changes in slope, and areas at the top or along ridges set back from the tops of slopes.

Warning Time: 3 – 6 to 12 hours Duration: 1 – Less than 6 hours

Location The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has produced landslide susceptibility and incidence mapping of the U.S., as shown in Figure 4.14. The USGS determines susceptibility based on the probable degree of response to cutting or loading of slopes or to anomalously high precipitation. Incidence is measured by the rate of past occurrences. According to the USGS definition and mapping, most of Wake County faces low susceptibility and incidence of landslide. However, areas along the western border of county, including portions of Apex, Cary, and Morrisville, face moderate susceptibility to and incidence of landslide.

Wake County Multi-Jurisdictional Hazard Mitigation Plan 2019


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