Yakima County, Union Gap declare a disaster due to landslide

Rattlesnake Ridge expert: Yakima County, Union Gap "has declared a disaster"

UNION GAP, Wash. - A crack in Rattlesnake Ridge causing a slow-moving landslide is now what experts say a declared disaster for Yakima County and the City of Union Gap.

A declared disaster means the county can more easily call in help from other cities to help with emergency jobs.

Geologists studying Rattlesnake Ridge shared information of recent landslide activity from the Yakima Valley Office of Emergency Management, Wednesday morning.

Any activity is expected to happen between now and March, according to experts.

Various speakers from multiple agencies addressed effects the landslide is having on the area, concerning many who live in the county.

Hazard geologist Stephen Slaughter of the Washington State Department of Natural Resources informed of the slight acceleration during the briefing. He said movement is up to 1.6 feet per week from a previously recorded 1.4 feet per week, meaning the slide is moving slightly faster.

"We've noticed that the landslide is accelerating but accelerating at a lower rate," Slaughter said. "The window of failure has moved into March now."

Slaughter said the landslide is still expected to move south if it fails.

"Union Gap and Yakima County has declared a disaster," Jeff Emmons, Director of Emergency Management, announced at the meeting. A map of the updated area affected is attached to this story.

Emmons said the county is on standby and ready for whatever happens.

"We are coordinating with numerous agencies to ensure the public is safe, if this event occurs tomorrow or in March," he said. "The additional time is going to allow us to refine our plan but I want the public to know that we are prepared if the event occurs tomorrow to take action and protect public safety."

The latest updates will be provided at the next press conference Friday, January 12.

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