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Oso Landslide: The Science of Risk

September 22, 2014

Dan Miller, a Seattle geomorphologist, has been warning about the risks of landslides in the Northwest for years.

Dan Miller has been studying and modeling the geology of the Northwest for years. His detailed analysis of the history of landslides in the area surrounding Oso, Washington, could have served as a warning for residents of Steelhead Haven and the Snohomish County officials who permitted ongoing development in an area that was prone to flooding and landslides. Miller is a quiet man, not one for arm-waving or strong statements, but when he heard about the landslide that killed 43 people near Oso, he said he was angry.  The science is available to enable everyone to know their level of risk from natural hazards but, he says, the information isn't being made available to people.

"You can’t pull out your cell phone and say, ‘What are the potential landslide hazards here?’ We have the tools. We have the data," Miller says. "We just have to put it all together, but then we have to get people to act on it, to incorporate it into decision making. People are still building in sites that we can identify as being potentially hazardous."



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Katie Campbell

Katie Campbell was the senior managing editor for video at Cascade Public Media and a founding reporter of the public media reporting partnership EarthFix. She covered environmental issues of the Pacific Northwest for more than six years, earning numerous regional and national journalism awards including eight regional Emmy Awards for reporting, photography and editing, a 2017 Edward R. Murrow Award for Excellence in Innovation and the 2015 international Kavli Science Journalism Gold Award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Katie currently works as a video journalist for the investigative journalism nonprofit organization ProPublica in New York City.

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