Within a 9-day period in mid-January 2013, landslides exploded across mountainous regions in Tennessee, North Carolina, Kentucky, West Virginia and Alabama. There were over 50 incidents of mudslides in North Carolina alone. While heavy rainfall was a contributing factor in these events, reports of shifting Earth in many of these area has been ongoing in recent years.
"The N American continent is bowing under the stress of having Mexico pulled west during the compression in the Pacific, while the top part of the continent remains firmly in place. The southeast of the US is being pulled down as the Atlantic Rift pulls apart. It is being pulled down due to the bowing of the N American continent. It is absolutely in the stretch zone and this is being expressed in many ways." ZetaTalk
More Than 50 Mudslides Across North Carolina in mid-January 2013
There has been a deluge of landslides over roadways, with nearly 50 slope failures causing problems on state-maintained roads, according to the Asheville Citizen-Times.
"We've had four in Cherokee County, three in Clay County, 23 in Graham County, eight in Haywood, 10 in Jackson, two in Macon, six in Swain and none in Henderson, Polk and Transylvania," said Joel Setzer, district engineer for District 14, which comprises the 10 westernmost counties.
Setzer noted that these are only slides on state-maintained roads. More have occurred on private roads.
Most of the slides have been from smaller embankments that overhang roadways, Setzer said, and so far the failures have not caused any wrecks, according to the newspaper. When the embankments fail, earth and debris slides onto the road.
So far, state transportation crews have been able to clear all of the smaller slides, working through the night in some cases.
One reported slide happened on U.S.19 north of Asheville in Yancey County.
"There is no way to know what might be unstable at the time," said NCDOT Maintenance Engineer Chris Deyton.
Deyton is learning though. In his district which covers both Yancey and Madison Counties, Deyton says there has been more than 25 slides in the past three days (as of Jan 17).
Giant Washout Strands Residents Near Bluff City Tennessee (Jan 19)
Members of the Hickory Tree Volunteer Fire Department began draining flood waters Saturday from a massive sinkhole on Barnette Road in the Chinquapin Road community, just outside of Bluff City, Tenn.
Barnette Road is completely under water for about 150 feet. The sinkhole, which took out part of the road, is roughly 75 feet across.
Fire crews are using a pumper truck and large hoses to pump the water uphill from the road, where the high water has blocked any exit for about 10 residents of the community.
They've really been on an island. It's been unfortunate, but the good news is that today we're able to see the volunteer fire department come out and make a big difference," says State Representative Timothy Hill.
Crews have been pumping out 14-thousand gallons of water per minute to try to get the water cleared out.
Twelve families are on the other side of the water unable to leave.
"They've run ATVs in from the other side to bring them some supplies in. They hadn't been able to get out to go to work and then when the snow hit and it froze, they lost all their power too," says volunteer Bobby Richards.
Resident Bobby Barnett says he's never seen it flood this bad.
"I've lived here all my life- it's the worst I've ever seen it. I've seen it flood before, but this is so much it can't take it. Somethings gonna have to be done about that hole right there," says Barnett.
According to the North Carolina Department of Transportation, the slide this morning occurred on the skyway, also known as N.C. 143, in Graham County, N.C., about a half mile from the Tennessee border.
The slide measures about 150 feet wide and extends 800 to 900 feet down the mountainside, according to North Carolina transportation authorities.
The western end of the roadway, which connects Tellico Plains southeast of Knoxville with Robbinsville, N.C., is closed at the Tennessee-N.C. border.
The Tennessee Department of Transportation has posted message boards warning drivers coming from Tennessee that their path is blocked.
In North Carolina, the eastern end of the skyway is closed at Joyce Kilmer Road.
Crews are studying the extent of damage and a repair schedule, according to North Carolina authorities.
Another mudslide has been reported Thursday on Cherohala Skyway (NC-143) in Graham County. It happened about a half-mile from the border with Tennessee.
Officials say the road isn't safe for travel and a detour has been put in place.
Crews will also be monitoring other high-traffic areas like Interstate 40 through the Pigeon River Gorge which has experienced numerous slides.
Debris from a mudslide blocks Black Camp Road in Haywood County
Mudslide brought down part of a mountain in Maggie Valley Thursday. It happened on Rich Cove Road near Ghost Town in the Sky. It's near the location of another mudslide that happened a few years ago.
Newfound Gap Road in North Carolina Swept Away by Massive Landslide (Jan 16)
U.S. Highway 441 between Gatlinburg and Cherokee, N.C. will be closed indefinitely since a 200-foot portion of the roadbed washed away at approximately 9:40 a.m.Wednesday, Jan. 16.
An estimated 90,000 cubic yards of asphalt, roadbed, mud and trees fell some 1,000 feet down the side of the mountain. The full extent of the damage is not known, Park officials said.
A gap about as long as a football field now divides U.S. 441, also known as Newfound Gap Road, on the North Carolina side of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
The nearly 50-foot-deep gap, created by a slide swept along by a deluge of rain this week in the Smokies, had consisted of about 90,000 cubic yards of material, according to park spokeswoman Molly Schroer.
The gap is situated near mile marker 22 between Collins Creek and the Webb Overlook, not far from Cherokee, N.C.
The National Park Service said the initial assessment shows about 90,000 cubic yards of soil slid about the length of a football field and is piled 45-50 feet deep.
"We just know it's going to be closed for an extended period of time," said Park Spokesperson Molly Schroer.
Rockslide on Alcoa Highway Near Knoxville Tennessee (Jan 15)
For the third time in two years, motorists can expect delays along Alcoa Highway in South Knoxville due to damage caused by a rockslide.
Mark Nagi, Region 1 TDOT spokesman, said the rock slide on Alcoa Highway occurred just after 10:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Falling boulders tore through the mesh — protections that had been installed following the last rockslide in March 2012.
This previous slide kept one northbound land shut down for nearly six weeks until crews could complete repairs.
A similar rockslide left the same stretch of roadway blocked in December 2010.
Hwy 90 in Egan Tennessee Slides Away (Jan 16)
A landslide that happened in one East Tennessee county Wednesday is still causing headaches for drivers in several local communities.
After numerous days of heavy rain, a 125-foot wide landslide, measuring 30 feet deep, occurred on Highway 90 near the Claiborne/Campbell County line in the unincorporated town of Eagan.
TDOT spokesperson Mark Nagi said the department suspects the waterway next to the road, which flooded earlier in the week, played a role in the incident.
Ever since the slide, Eagan residents and others who live around the area, have had to take long detours to get to bigger cities in the region.
"It's the main artery that everybody and everything uses to get out of here," she said.
He said TDOT hopes to finish the lane by the end of that day and have the entire project finished in two weeks.
"We have had people [workers] who haven't rested in days," he said.
Fort Payne Alabama Landslide Will Take Months to Repair (Jan 16)
DeKalb County officials said although they did not anticipate a landslide on Fort Payne Gap Road, it did not come as a surprise.
“There’s been an issue there, the road has been settling some for years. We thought we had made some repairs but this type of failure of this magnitude was not expected,” DeKalb County engineer Ben Luther said.
Crews tried to build up and strengthen the shoulder of the road last year, but Luther said cracks formed and collected recent rainfall which saturated the shoulder.
“It just got so heavy and wet where it just dropped,” he said.
There aren’t any homes on that section of the road, but it is a major throughway for people traveling between Lookout Mountain and the valley portion of Fort Payne.
The shift made it unsafe to drive on, and Luther said snow could add even more weight.
“We don’t have any idea how long it’s going to take [to repair it],” Luther said.
“Four years ago when we had the road on Sylvania Gap do this exact same thing it was over a year by the time we got everything done and the road opened back up,” he said.
“Hopefully this won’t be as bad and won’t take as long but it looks very very similar to what happened on Sylvania Gap.”
West Virginia Rock Slide Closes Road in Kanawha County (Jan 16)
Dillsboro NC Mudslide Takes out Part of Mountain (Jan 16)
Mars Hill NC Mudslide Narrowly Misses Home (Jan 16)
Four Mudslides During Past 2 Years in Richmond Kentucky (Jan 13)
Wheeling West Virginia's Heritage Trail Plagued by Mudslides Past Several Years (Jan 11)
A powerful mudslide Friday morning forced crews to close the Wheeling Heritage Trail until it's cleaned up.
The slide left a mess, sending mud not only onto the trail itself, but downstream for miles in Big Wheeling Creek.
This is not the first time there's been a mudslide on the trail. Wheeling Public Works Director Rusty Jebbia said crews were cleaning up the slide that happened around Christmas, but this afternoon the Valley had some light rain which made more debris come down.
Crews originally tried to remove the mud and reopen the trail, but after a few hours of work, they got more than what they were expecting.
"We were working on getting the trail opened back up and we did get it back open late morning," Jebbia said. "We went back to hose off the asphalt, then we had a little rain even over lunchtime and then everything came back down on the trail from above."
Jebbia said this is the largest mudslide to date for this section of trail. The mess was visible from Interstate 70 and turned the Big Wheeling Creek brown.