This is from Monday but I thought it was a great piece of journalism about an awful event.
Since the 1950s, geological reports on the hill that buckled during the weekend in Snohomish County have included pessimistic analyses and the occasional dire prediction. But no language seems more prescient than what appears in a 1999 report filed with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, warning of “the potential for a large catastrophic failure.”
That report was written by Daniel J. Miller and his wife, Lynne Rodgers Miller. When she saw the news of the mudslide Saturday, she knew right away where the land had given way. Her husband knew, too.
“We’ve known it would happen at some point,” he told The Seattle Times on Monday. “We just didn’t know when.”
Daniel Miller, a geomorphologist, also documented the hill’s landslide conditions in a report written in 1997 for the Washington Department of Ecology and the Tulalip Tribes. He knows the hill’s history, having collected reports and memos from the 1950s, 1960s, 1980s and 1990s. He has a half-dozen manila folders stuffed with maps, slides, models and drawings, all telling the story of an unstable hillside that has defied efforts to shore it up.
His perspective stands in contrast to what John Pennington, head of Snohomish County’s Department of Emergency Management, said at a news conference Monday. “It was considered very safe,” Pennington said. “This was a completely unforeseen slide. This came out of nowhere.”
This isn’t the one-in-a-billion disappearance of a jet airplane in thousands of square miles of remote ocean. A herd of unicorns didn’t fly down from the heavens, piss all over that hillside, and stir up the landslide with their horns. A 2010 report said it was dangerous, and the area might have been logged in a way that contributed to the slide.