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Emergency Management teams hire independent geologist for Rattlesnake Ridge landslide

Emergency Management teams hire independent geologist for Rattlesnake Ridge landslide.

UNION GAP, Wash. - Emergency Management teams have brought in a geologist group with 80 years of experience with rock and landslides to make sure they have the best people on the job.

Over 20 acres of land is slowly making its way down the ridge at about one point six feet a week.

While geologists from the Department of Transportation and Department Natural Resources were already monitoring the slide, the WSDOT brought in an independent third geologist group with the support of Governor Jay Inslee.

Assistant Regional Administrator Randy Giles says they're sending Wiley and Norrish Rock Engineers all the data to have another perspective on the landslide.

“Just to bring in a third outside set of eyes,” he said. “Somebody well-respected that can provide independent judgement on this.”

Yakima had the most rain in months yesterday and there was concern about how all the precipitation was going to affect the landslide.

A concern that DNR said isn't warranted with the amount of rain Yakima usually gets.

“It's going to require a lot of precipitation. As far as we know the that failure surface is dry at this point,” Landslide Hazards Mapping Program Coordinator Stephen Slaughter said. “You have to have water introduced into the system. It's a long way to go.”

While the large amount of rock and soil is slowly moving south, emergency management teams want everyone to know it's still safe to drive on the interstate.

“I want to emphasize 82 is still open. It is safe to travel,” Emergency Management Director Jeff Emmons said. “If it wasn't safe, we will close it.”

Saturday Congressman Dan Newhouse will visit Rattlesnake Ridge after urging Governor Inslee to declare a state of emergency in Yakima County.

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