Fire-Ravaged Forest Lands at Extreme Risk of Landslides During H - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Fire-Ravaged Forest Lands at Extreme Risk of Landslides During Heavy Rainfall Periods

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Walla Walla Emergency Management shares landslide risk map. Walla Walla Emergency Management shares landslide risk map.

WALLA WALLA, WA - Landslide risks are extreme right now in many places because of recent rain and this summer's rash of wildfires have made conditions even worse. 

That includes a huge swath of Klickitat County, Kittitas, Yakima, Columbia, and Walla Walla Counties. In eastern Oregon, too, people are warned to be thinking about the landslide hazards as they go about their days. 

Part of the problem is the wildfire-ravaged forest lands in the Blue Mountains. Walla Walla County's Emergency Management director explained that after fires, debris flows can be very fast moving. There's not much left on the hillsides to hold back water runoff. Also, after soil gets extremely hot it becomes hydrophobic, meaning it sort of repels water so it doesn't sink in. Instead it just runs off. 

If you're in an area like that you should be aware and ready during these storms. 

"Watching for seeps, and springs in the slopes, cracks in the snow, rumblings or any indication that there's anything or breakage in the vegetation. But particularly if you're in that area, we would like you to have, at minimum, a three day supply kit," said Walla Walla Emergency Management Director Liz Jessee. 

During the Blue Creek Fire near Walla Walla over the summer, emergency management estimated a couple hundred homes were in the drainage area. Some of those are full-time residences, others are vacation homes. 

Most counties do have emergency alert systems. Just visit your local emergency management website to find out how to sign up.

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