Landslides occur when masses of rock, earth, or debris move down a slope. Heavy rains, snowmelt, erosion, building construction, and land use changes are some of the contributing factors to landslides. They often occur with other major natural disasters, such as flooding or wildfires.
In Wisconsin, the hilly terrain adjacent to the Mississippi River in the Southwest region is especially prone to landslides. Landslides can also occur along Wisconsin’s Great Lake coasts. However, almost any steep or rugged terrain can be susceptible to landslides in the right conditions.
TERMS to know
These are sometimes referred to as mudslides. They are fast-moving landslides that destroy objects in their path, and often strike without warning. Debris flows generally occur during periods of intense rainfall or rapid snowmelt. They can carry large items such as boulders, trees, and cars. Areas recently burned by wildfires are especially susceptible to debris flows.
These are abrupt, downward movements of rock or earth that detach from steep slopes or cliffs. Boulders can bounce or roll great distances and damage structures or kill people.