Saturday, April 19, 2014

Landslide gains speed, threatens Wyoming resort homes

Laura Zuckerman in Reuters: A slow-moving landslide threatening the affluent Wyoming community of Jackson is picking up speed, with safety concerns prompting authorities to halt efforts to stabilize the area, city officials said on Friday.

"The acceleration in the slide has been doubling since approximately April 1st, with significant movement in the last 24 hours," the town said on its website. But officials were not issuing any warnings or critical alerts, it added.

The landslide has displaced residents of several homes and two apartment buildings near the base of the East Gros Ventre Butte, which geologists said was slumping at a rate that this week increased to a foot a day from four inches.

"The fractured mass wants to slide down and gravity is pulling it down," said Peter Ward, a retired geologic hazards expert with the U.S. Geological Survey. "How it's going to fall apart nobody knows, but it's going to come apart," Ward said at a town meeting.

Evacuations from residences and several businesses below the crumbling hillside may continue for weeks as Jackson crews and utility companies work to prevent ruptures to gas and power lines and a city water main.

Water supply was halved pending repairs set for Tuesday, when water would be shut off to several Jackson residences and businesses until the repairs were completed, authorities said. Dozens of people who wanted to return home on Saturday to retrieve possessions were allowed to do so with escorts, Jackson officials said in a statement. Homeowners will also be allowed access to their homes on Sunday, officials said...

A public domain image of Jackson, Wyoming, by Mlewis2005

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