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Rattlesnake Ridge fissure prompts evacuation notice

UNION GAP, Wash. - UPDATE: According to the Yakima Valley Office of Emergency Management, Thorp Road between Birchfield Road and Gangl Road will remain closed until further notice. Homes along Thorp Road south of the Quarry have been put on a Level 3 recommended evacuation. A Level 3 evacuation means you should leave immediately.

I-82 is still open but WSDOT is monitoring the area for rockfall. If they feel the area is unsafe, they will close it. 

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Officials have issued an evacuation warning to about 50 residents living near Rattlesnake Ridge east of Union Gap, Washington according to the Yakima Herald.

A massive fissure has been forming on the ridge and officials are worried that a massive landslide could occur in the coming weeks.

Warning signs have been placed along Interstate 82, warning drivers to watch out for falling rocks.

As an added precaution, large freight containers have been brought in and placed as a barrier between the freeway and the slide area to protect against potential falling debris.

A detour plan is ready to be put in place if the hillside begins to slide and travel on the roadway becomes too dangerous.

As of right now, no falling rocks have reached the roadway.

Shortly before 8:40 p.m. Friday night, in the area between Toppenish and Goldendale, the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network recorded two earthquakes.

The larger of the two quakes was a magnitude 2.7 at a depth of 12.2 miles, while the other was magnitude 2.5 with an 8.4 mile depth.

According to Steve Reidel, an adjunct geology professor at Washington State University’s Tri-Cities campus, the quakes would be unnoticeable given how far underground they were.

He also said it does not appear that the quakes contributed to the fissure on Rattlesnake Ridge.

The crack was first discovered in October, and it has been monitored since. Since monitoring began, an estimated 4 million cubic yards of land has begun to move faster.


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