Landslide & Debris Flow

Land movement occurs when a slope’s natural stability is disturbed by heavy rains, earth movements such as an earthquake or volcanic eruption, or changes in topography that allow gravity to undermine its support. There are usually warning signs to indicate land movement is possible. Here’s how you can prepare:


Five Ways to


  • 1 Dig up the past. If you live near a hillside, find out if there is a history of movement in the area.
  • 2 Know the signs beforehand. Look for changes in hillside appearance, loud noises, cracks, bulging at the base, leaning trees, and water drainage.
  • 3 If you live in an area prone to land movement or hillsides recently impacted by wildfire, keep track of rainfall rates and thresholds that historically trigger land movement.
  • 4 Roads can fill up with debris and become impassible. Map an alternate route for evacuation.
  • 5 Follow The National Weather Service and register for VC Alert. If heavy rainfall is predicted in a hazardous area, authorities may send emergency notifications.
  • 6 Have a Family Emergency Plan, including communication and evacuations. Talk with neighbors who might need assistance and include them.

Four Ways to

Save the Day

  • 1 Stay tuned to weather reports and keep an eye on rainfall rates.
  • 2 Size up the situation. Don’t wait for alerts from public safety. If it looks and feels dangerous, leave.
  • 3 Help us help you. Know the difference between Evacuation Warnings and Evacuation Orders and take appropriate action when called upon.
  • 4 Know where to turn. Visit for trusted and timely disaster information.

Three Things to


  • 1 Rainfall in excess of 1 inch per hour may trigger flooding, landslides or debris flow in any location.
  • 2 Wildfires leave once-lush hillsides bare and susceptible to debris flow and flooding.
  • 3 You can keep track of rainfall rates in your area. Check out local rainfall totals here.

Two Things to

Ease Your Mind

  • 1 Most burn areas recover quickly with new vegetation growth. If possible, landscape any hillsides in your area with drought-tolerant and fire-resistant plants.
  • 2 A professional geologist can help you understand the risks in your area and how to mitigate them. Consider scheduling a professional consultation if you live in land movement prone areas.

One Question You Should be Asking Yourself

Right Now

  • 1 Is my area susceptible to land movement? Find out here.

Did You Know?

Hillsides are more susceptible to debris flow after wildfire because they become hydrophobic.

When vegetation burns, plant material can create a thin waxy layer on top of the soil that creates a barrier and prevents water from being absorbed. When soil repels water, runoff increases, contributing to erosion and debris flow.


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