Southern Idaho is at increased risk for landslides

Last week we saw a minor landslide in the South Hills
Published: Oct. 12, 2021 at 4:52 PM MDT
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SOUTHERN IDAHO (KMVT/KSVT) — As fire season becomes more firmly in the rear-view mirror, the aftermath of those burns will begin to show their effects. Those areas are now at an increased risk for floods and mudslides.

“This time of year you definitely will have those mudslides post-fire when the ground is still unstable from being burned and, you know, having things ripped out of it,” said Kelsey Brizendine with the Bureau of Land Management.

If you live or are recreating in an area that was burned by a recent fire, whether it was this year or in years past, there are things to look out for as signs that a minor rain incident may put you in danger.

“If you come into an area and you notice that it’s a very steep terrain and you notice that on either side of that burned area there’s a lot of vegetation, but that burned area doesn’t have any, then there is a pretty good chance that any type of moisture could trigger a flash flood or a slide of some sort,” said Brizendine.

Floods and slides are a reality even in areas where fires haven’t ravaged the landscape. As prolonged drought conditions have affected Southern Idaho’s vegetation, meaning the soil is more susceptible to flooding and slides.

“If you kind of got some light rains consistently, you wouldn’t have that much of an issue,” said KMVT Chief Meteorologist Eric Brill. “The ground doesn’t absorb it like the way a sponge would, per se, since there is no vegetation, no roots to support that.” he continued.

Rain incidents like those in Southern Idaho over the last week are helpful, but not without some consistency. “You could have a wet week, but if you end up having a dry three or four weeks after that, that week is irrelevant because it’s just going to be negated by all the dry conditions beyond that,” said Brill.

The best thing you can do to ensure you are safe in areas that may be at risk is to do your homework. “It’s just a really good idea to just pay close attention to that stuff before you go. That age-old ‘know before you go’ will help a lot,” said Brizendine.

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