Officials Declare Disaster Area for ‘Slipping’ Rattlesnake Ridge
With the crack in the Rattlesnake Ridge widening inches per week, or perhaps more, Yakima county officials have already taken steps to declare the area a disaster. This will allow faster allotment and deployment of Federal relief funds if (when) the mountain slides down.
According to Yaktrinews.com there are a number of homes who've been evacuated just below and around the area. These people are questioning when they will be able to return home.
As for what specifically caused the rift, it's not clear. According to a number of websites, including AGU.org (the voice of the Earth and Space Science Community) there is apparently a 'history' of activity in that area.
Some of the people posting on that blog site have geology and other experience, and they say as far back as 2011 cracks have been visible near or where the big rift is now. Some experts say there's been landslide activity in this area, although not nearly as large, as far back as 1983.
Others question whether the gravel pit on the side of the ridge may have added to the instability or cracking issues. Either way, it continues to be monitored.
IF the mountain does slide down in a catastrophic manner, including the bottom portion 'kicking out' it could be twice as big as the Oso landslide that killed numerous people in Washington state a few years ago.