Be Ready Utah: What you need to know about landslides

May 23, 2023, 3:08 PM | Updated: 3:20 pm

Landslides often occur without warning and with Utah's record-breaking snowfall melting, the likeli...

A tilting mailbox is pictured in the neighborhood of the Springhill Drive Landslide Geologic Park in North Salt Lake on Wednesday, April 19, 2023. (Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

(Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Landslides often occur without warning and with Utah’s record-breaking snowfall melting, the likelihood of them taking place across the state is high. 

Thankfully, there are warning signs you can look for before a landslide occurs. But they are subtle warning signs. 

Bill Keach, director of the Utah Geological Survey, joined Dave Noriega and Debbie Dujanovic to discuss recognizing the warning signs of a landslide.

Think inches, not feet

First, he says it’s important to note that most landslides don’t move a hundred feet an hour, rather it’s a couple inches. 

“So if your mailbox, you know, is at a different spot than it was or starting to tilt, if the trees on the hillside are starting to point down, those are tell-tale signs that a landslide is occurring in that area,” Keach told Dave and Dujanovic. 

Keach also said that landslides aren’t all catastrophic events. He says it can range from a mudslide to debris flow, or even rocks falling down. 

Thus far, there have been 20 emergency responses to landslides this year in Utah, according to the Utah Geological Survey. 

“Every day we seem to get new ones, two of our folks are out today looking at landslides,” Keach says. “Right now it’s a daily thing.” 

What to do if you see signs of a landslide? 

Dave said his mailbox has shifted from its original spot and that he has noticed a tree pointing downhill. What are the next steps? 

“I’m not going to lie, there’s not a lot you can do to stop a landslide from moving,” he said. Further, he said that the best thing to do is keep an eye on it. 

Debbie adds that taking photos and documenting the movement is also a good idea. 

The Utah Geological Survey has created a landslide hazard site to see how prone your Utah land is to a landslide.  You can also contact the Utah Geological Survey directly with any questions. 

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