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The slippery slope that is Lowell-Larimer Road



(Snohomish County) I’m no geologist.  Certainly not an engineer, either.

But a simple eyeball test nearly screams that it’s only a matter of time before a significant chunk of hillside crashes down upon Lowell-Larimer Road.

Worse yet, a slide could extend toward houses just across the road.

That possibility is certainly on one man’s mind today.

Google map showing where trees fell onto Lowell-Larimer Road today.
Google map showing where trees fell onto Lowell-Larimer Road today.

He told me his house “shook, rumbled” when trees came crashing down the hillside and onto the road and power lines just yards from from his home this morning.

That man declined to speak on camera, but his concern is real.  I watched him move his boat closer to his house, away from the hillside.

He told me he was doing so in case the hill came down.

A worker at the site this morning made a point of telling me I was assuming some risk by simply standing across the road from the hill.

The worker told me the hillside was unstable, and paused to point to the exact location where the large tree now on the road had snapped from its trunk a considerable distance up the hill (you can see that trunk in the photos and video from today’s shoot).

The worker advised me that I should leave soon.

I did.

But thoughts of that hillside stay with me.

That stretch of Lowell-Larimer road is not unfamiliar to me.

One year ago to the month I also stood there with my camera.

On March 20, 2013, a wind storm knocked trees down onto the road.

March 20, 2013 video
*please go to the 35-second mark in this video

I’ve since come to understand the code in the hill.

Just look for the scattered, practically horizontal tree stumps; the signatures of past, similar episodes.

The trees are falling.

The roots holding the hill will loosen.

I don’t think I’m going out on a limb when I speculate that development above and beyond the hill is likely to continue…

And that nature will continue to surrender its grip on the hill that rises above the valley floor here.

The code of the hill speaks to me in another way, too.

My childhood flirted with this place.

I spent several years in my youth growing-up in an area not far from the top of that hillside; a neighborhood called Eastmont.

Back in the late 1970’s, it was a thrill to explore the woods beyond the back of Eastmont.

With each step, my brothers and I would be closer to the valley.

But we never saw it.

Back then, those woods seemed more like a dense jungle to an adventurous boy.

Fact is, that area was still thick, mostly untamed forest.

I remember lots of wild berries, and discovering a place we called the “clay pits.”

Where much of those woods once stood, homes now stand.

Eastmont grew.

And about 35-years later, I find myself thinking of clay, once again.

In the final shot of today’s video, you’ll see what I recorded while standing in the boat owner’s driveway.

The camera first shows the simple road, then tilts-up to reveal what looms overhead: A towering bare wall of rain-soaked clay.

One can only hope  local leaders have their eyes on the slippery slope that is this stretch of Lowell-Larimer Road.

And that they take action before a potential disaster comes crashing down.

Google Earth screen shot of Lowell-Larimer Road in the valley, and Eastmont neighborhood on higher ground to the west.
Google Earth screen shot of Lowell-Larimer Road in the valley, and Eastmont neighborhood on higher ground to the west.


Additional Reading: 

Everett, landowner reach agreement to fix road / The Herald, Noah Haglund, September 3, 2012

Frustration mounts as Everett hillside slips / The Herald, Noah Haglund, October 22, 2012

*This post updated at 10:35pm, March 10, to include links to The Herald stories.  Thank you @longhare1 for bringing these helpful background stories to my attention.



News Snohomish Snohomish River video Washington weather

Rising water forces closure on Old Snohomish Monroe Road

B-Roll:  Old Snohomish Monroe Rd closure

(Snohomish, WA) Standing water on Old Snohomish Monroe Road resulted in the road’s closure Monday evening.

Google Maps (screen shot)
Location of flooding on Snohomish Monroe Road. (Google Maps, screen shot)

Several inches of water stretched across the road near the Pilchuck River crossing.

The roadway beneath a railroad bridge was the apparent reason for concern. streamed live from the area; first from the road closure barrier on Lincoln Avenue, then from railroad bridge area.  The live streams were recorded and can be viewed below.

Not sure how long the road remained closed, but some good news came at 1pm on Monday.  That’s when the U.S. Geological Survey tweeted that the Snohomish and Snoqualmie Rivers had begun receding.

U.S. Geological Survey tweet on March 10.
U.S. Geological Survey tweet on March 10.


Google Street View of location (file)
Google Street View of location (file)

11-second iPhone clip of a vehicle driving through the water.

Two live streams from the location on Sunday night (recorded).

Video streaming by Ustream

Video streaming by Ustream

Beyond 90 Seconds DSLR Snohomish Snohomish River video Washington wildlife youtube

VIDEO: Silver salmon jumping on Snohomish River

I couldn’t yet see the Snohomish River, but after getting out of my SUV and taking a brief walk, I could hear the familiar sound of salmon “having a splash.”

(Sorry, the complete text of this original post is not currently available)

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Beyond 90 Seconds lightning lightning video monsoon News Sabino Tucson video weather

Small rockslide caught on tape (VIDEO)

Regular readers of this blog may already know that I enjoy shooting video and taking photographs of storms.  Such was the case early Sunday night when I just managed to catch a small rockslide on videotape.

It happened on Catalina Highway outside of Tucson just under a tenth of a mile north of milepost 4.

A nice storm had just begun to unleash rain, lightning and thunder in the early evening.  Typical of the Monsoon, partly sunny skies had finally surrendered to dark clouds in what seemed like an instant.

Just moments before the rockslide, the sky turned a vibrant orange, casting the same hue upon the mountains surrounding this stretch of road.

I’ve decided to make a story out of the video I shot last night, showing the simple chain of events as they unfolded.

There’s nothing terribly special about this rockslide.  They’re common in the Catalinas.  And this one is small, just managing to stay off of the nearby traffic lane.

To my knowledge, capturing a naturally occurring slide event on video is not common here. And as you’ll see in the video, I almost missed it…

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