Tragic events such as the landslide in Washington state that killed at least 16 people highlight the destructive nature of landslides, but experts say they are hard to predict for a number of reasons. Rainfall is one factor that can lead to increased landslide risk, but its impact is not always clear-cut. "As far as warnings, we know that certain thresholds of rainfall can initiate landslides," said Lynn Highland, a geographer with the U.S. Geological Survey's National Landslide Information Center. "However, the geology and soils are so different, even in small areas, that we can only get rainfall thresholds on a limited basis."
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