As we begin to look back on 2014, there can be no doubt that the tragic landslide that hit the town of Oso, Washington this spring will be remembered as one of the year’s most heart-wrenching events.
Towns like Oso and others along Highway 530 in Skagit County are like so many others in Washington state. These are the places where so many hard-working members of our forestry and milling community make their homes. We share the very human desire to understand what happened on that morning on March 22nd.
We believe that scientific study will lead us to a better understanding of how nature creates the potential for these disasters and how we can predict more accurately when dangerous conditions arise.
David Montgomery, a professor of geomorphology at the University of Washington, has looked carefully at the Oso site, both studying the March slide as well as the history of frequent slides in the area. His observations about the geologic development of the valley over the last 35,000 years or more (shared in this PBS-produced video vignette) are fascinating and should help officials looking for answers.
Montgomery’s work---along with that of other scientists---was also featured in a recent full-length episode of the award-winning science program NOVA that delved into research seeking to know more about deep-seated landslides like Oso, and other types of catastrophic slides.
We recommend watching the short video of Dr. Montgomery and NOVA’s “Killer Landslides.”
These pieces documenting some of the important research in Oso and other slide-prone regions of the world are engaging, eye-opening and well worth your time.