Why landslides are so difficult to predict

03/26/2014 | Mashable

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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