USA – Record Rainfall Triggers Floods and Landslides in South East Alaska

Two people are still missing and 4 others have been found safe after heavy rain triggered a landslide in Haines, Alaska, USA on 02 December 2020.

Record rainfall in South East Alaksa caused a landslide in Haines on 02 December 2020. Photo: Alaska State Troopers

The Alaska Department of Public Safety said on 02 December; “the landslide has been determined to be on Beach Road extension. At this time, there are six people unaccounted for and four houses have been destroyed. There is approximately nine feet of mud and trees covering the area. (Search and Rescue) SAR operations have been suspended for the evening due to rumbling unstable ground.”

As of 03 December, 2 people were still missing. State of Alaska geologists are traveling to the area today to help ascertain the risk of searching the mudslide.

Further mudslides and some flooding have been reported in areas around Haines following heavy rainfall. Haines Borough said the ground is already frozen due to significant snowfall so the extreme rain is causing serious flooding. Roads have been blocked and some residents left stranded and several families displaced.

Haines Borough has declared a state of emergency. Mayor of Haines, Douglas Olerud, said: “Haines is going to be needing lots of prayers. We have several roads that have washed out, mud slides, and houses flooding. Crews have been working all night but the amount of rain we are getting is making it difficult for them to address all the problems.”

According to NWS Juneau, some areas have seen record breaking rainfall total. More than 11 inches / 279.4mm of rain fell in 48 hours to 02 December 2020 in the city of Pelican. Strong winds have also been reported.

Rainfall South East Alaska in early December 2020. Image: NWS Juneau
Rainfall South East Alaska in early December 2020. Image: NWS Juneau

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