When California gets hit with unimaginable amounts of rain--like February's devastating "atmospheric river"--countless video reports of landslides make their way onto multiple social media platforms. Talk about frightening and humbling and, yes, fascinating.

Landslides in Kentucky

Despite the horrific damage, it's hard to take your eyes off of them. Unfortunately, it's nothing new on the West Coast. And actually, it's nothing new east of the Mississippi River, either. And Kentucky is right up there with regard to the number of reported landslides. Not unexpectedly, the majority of them have occurred in EASTERN Kentucky. Oddly enough, there have been frequent occurrences in northern Kentucky, too, in the Cincinnati metro area. The Kentucky Geological Survey at the University of Kentucky shows them literally dotting the landscape.

Kentucky Geological Survey/University of Kentucky
Kentucky Geological Survey/University of Kentucky

The reason I was surprised to see so many verified landslides in western Kentucky is because of how flat it is. But landslides aren't just relegated to mountainous regions. Case in point, one was reported just hours ago in Muhlenberg County on Kentucky 2270 leaving authorities no choice but to close the stretch of road between mile markers 5.6 and 5.7 for several weeks.

Eastern KY Residents Seem to Have Grown Jaded About Landslides

But because of the elevation in eastern Kentucky, it's usually much worse and, as you can see, a much more COMMON situation. What strikes me about this 2021 report of a landslide in Pike County--Kentucky's easternmost county--is how accustomed these folks seem to be to landslides or mudslides.

No, I know there's NOTHING casual about such an occurrence and that it has to be as devastating as it looks, but I just can't imagine being so used to something like this happening.

Hickman KY Slides

Further dampening my surprise at the number of western Kentucky slides is Hickman KY, a Mississippi River town that seems plagued by them.

This slide happened back in 2019 and then, in 2023, the town had to deal with flood-related mudslides. I'm certainly no expert, but maybe the Mississippi makes the ground softer?

Regardless, color me no longer shocked that landslides/mudslides have plagued and will likely continue to plague western Kentucky despite the lack of the kind of mountains we see in Appalachian Kentucky.

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