NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The Nashville Metro is no stranger to natural disasters. Historic flooding in May of 2010 and a devastating tornado in March of 2020 often come to mind.
As heavy rainfall events increase in frequency and rapid growth continues, landslides may soon become an even bigger concern.
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James LaRosa, Service Hydrologist at the National Weather Service Office in Nashville, said the terrain in Middle Tennessee accounts for much of the landslide risk.
“Here in the middle portions, we get some decent terrain differences over short distances. It’s really where you see this terrain and the rolling hills.”
Nashville has a history of landslides. Heavy rain and flooding led to widespread landslides in March 1975 and May 2010.
Landslides are most common during the winter months but can occur at other times of the year.
“It’s really kind of a wintertime threat, or when we’ve had a lot of rain, the ground gets really saturated, and so that tends to kind of move the soils,” said LaRosa.
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Development may also be increasing the landslide threat. Metro Nashville’s 2020 Multi-Hazard Mitigation plan shows that building on steeper slopes has increased the threat of landslides in areas like Bellevue.
This same report also states steep slopes in south-central Davidson and north-central Williamson counties may be more prone to landslides.
LaRosa said developing land can remove the vegetation that keeps slopes stable, increasing the risk of landslide activity.
“Sometimes if you remove the vegetation that holds things together, you can kind of cause a problem that didn’t necessarily exist in the first place.”