Recently, Southern California has been being hit by a spate of deadly mudslides. Video available online shows rivers of mud careening down streets, carrying cars along in the flow. Twenty people have been confirmed killed and 28 injured, with 8 more people unaccounted for at the time of this writing.
While not on the top of most people’s disaster risk checklist, mudslides are extremely dangerous. We can see that by looking at what is happening in California. But as mudslides go, these have been rather minor. In 2010, a mudslide swallowed an entire town of 300 homes in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico, as people slept in their beds.
Rescue efforts were hampered by damage to the roads, which had to be cleared before workers could get to the town.
Mudslides, like avalanches, can happen very quickly, giving little to no notice. But that doesn’t mean that we never have any idea that a mudslide can occur. Certain conditions are required to cause a mudslide and those are well understood.