Landslide threat may be growing in Nashville

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The Nashville subway is no stranger to natural disasters. One often thinks of historic floods in May 2010 and a devastating tornado in March 2020.

As heavy rain events become more frequent and rapid growth continues, landslides could soon become an even bigger problem.

James LaRosa, a service hydrologist with the National Weather Service Office in Nashville, said the Middle Tennessee terrain accounts for much of the landslide risk.

“Here in the middle sections we get some decent terrain changes over a short distance. You really see that terrain and rolling hills there.”

Nashville has a history of landslides. Heavy rainfall and flooding in March 1975 and May 2010 led to large-scale landslides.

Landslides are most common during the winter months, but can also occur at other times of the year.

“It’s really kind of a winter threat, or when we’ve had a lot of rain, the soil gets really saturated, and that tends to kind of move the soils,” LaRosa said.

The development may also increase the risk of landslides. Metro Nashville’s 2020 Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan shows that building on steeper slopes has increased the risk of landslides in areas like Bellevue.

The same report also said steep slopes in South-Central Davidson and North-Central Williamson counties could be more prone to landslides.

LaRosa said developing land can remove the vegetation that keeps slopes stable, increasing the risk of landslide activity.

“Sometimes when you remove the vegetation that holds things together, you can create a problem that wasn’t necessarily there to begin with.” Landslide threat may be growing in Nashville

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