time-lapse video of Walgreens landslide

By Jim Stanford on April 18, 2014

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After a week of slow movement by a landslide on East Gros Ventre Butte, the hillside above Walgreens began crumbling yesterday, creating a spectacle that drew hundreds of onlookers along West Broadway.

The slide sent near-continuous streams of dirt and rocks into the Walgreens parking lot, halting work on a restraining buttress. Movement of 3 feet was measured in the easternmost crack.

The Town of Jackson has set up a camera for live video streaming, from which this time lapse was made. (The live cam will not play on mobile devices.)

As of this morning, buttress work again stopped as the lower portion of Budge Drive has been lost. Town crews are working to salvage the technical equipment from the pump house that supplied water to homes and businesses in the area.

The slide accelerated yesterday, causing extreme buckling of the pavement and pushing the pump house into the Walgreens entrance sign. The lower parking lot of Sidewinders is buckling and undulating, too.

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council to discuss landslide response

By Jim Stanford on April 14, 2014

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Brad Watsabaugh shows where a crack has formed in the ground above Budge Drive during a tour of the area last week.

The Jackson Town Council has shuffled the agenda for today’s 3 p.m. workshop to consider the landslide above Walgreens on East Gros Ventre Butte.

An update on the landslide and the town’s response will be the first item discussed. The meeting will take place in Town Hall and be streamed live on the Internet.

Town manager Bob McLaurin plans to ask the council to authorize emergency spending up to $750,000. That figure has swelled from the $50,000 the council initially authorized Thursday.

There will be a press conference at 11 a.m., also streamed online, for authorities to explain the Budge Drive closure. It is expected that Budge Drive will be closed for the foreseeable future, and residents may access the low-risk area on foot after receiving permission from private property owners.

New cracks formed in the hillside above Walgreens and Budge Drive over the weekend, and existing cracks continue to widen or deepen. Pavement continues to buckle in the closed store’s parking lot.

One of the town’s chief concerns is protecting a water main running along the West Broadway bike path, which is still under construction. The slide has been moving beneath the Budge Drive pump house and is about 10 to 15 feet from the water line, McLaurin said.

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update on Gros Ventre Butte landslide

By Jim Stanford on April 10, 2014

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Update 6:30 p.m.: We received good news from George Machan, the landslide consultant. Based on a preliminary survey of the site and related data, he estimates the chance of a sudden, catastrophic failure at about 5 percent. Also, the area most at risk may be limited to Walgreens and the east portion of Budge Drive, he said. Wet weather may accelerate movement, he cautioned, and further monitoring is necessary.

Businesses in the Hillside Building will be allowed to reopen, except for Sidewinders. The evacuation order for Budge Drive will remain in effect.

There will be a community meeting at 7 p.m. tonight at Jackson Elementary School gym (next to the rec center) to give an overview of the East Gros Ventre Butte landslide.

George Machan, a landslide expert from Oregon, has been on the butte today and will give an assessment of the geology and slide risks.

The Jackson Town Council also will meet at 5 p.m. at Town Hall, mainly to authorize the emergency command team to expend funds and take appropriate response steps. The meeting should be streamed online.

The ground continues to move on the butte. Power lines were being stretched, and a 2-foot sinkhole opened near the bottom of Budge Drive. Lower Valley Energy was working to release tension on the lines.

There are propane tanks buried beside homes on Budge Drive and gas lines in the vicinity. Also of concern is a town water main fed by a 2-million-gallon storage tank on the butte. Emergency responders are planning for the worst should these utilities be affected.

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Walgreens closes for landslide danger

By Jim Stanford on April 9, 2014

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Update 7 p.m.: The advisory has been upgraded to an evacuation order. All residents of Budge Drive and the Hillside Building are being asked to leave as a precaution. A geologist has detected several inches of movement since February about 40 feet below the surface of the ground, raising the possibility of a larger slide. More information follows after the jump.

The new Walgreens store on Broadway sits beneath an old cut on the hillside. Extensive earth removal and grading were done before the store was built last year. The slope is collapsing above the building.

With a potential landslide looming, the Walgreens store on Broadway has closed, and the Town of Jackson has issued an evacuation advisory for residents of Budge Drive.

The ground continues to move on East Gros Ventre Butte, and that movement has accelerated, said Roxanne Robinson, assistant town manager.

Walgreens closed voluntarily in the interest of safety, she said. An evacuation advisory is a cautionary move and not mandatory for residents. The last time one was issued was during the Little Horsethief Fire in 2012.

A crack runs through a driveway and home on Budge Drive.

An arc-shaped crack has formed in the butte above Walgreens. The crack runs through a driveway and house owned by a member of the Budge family. The home has sustained tremendous damage in recent months as the ground has shifted beneath it.

At the bottom of the cut slope, that shifting has caused the Walgreens parking lot to buckle in places. The foot of Budge Drive also is buckling, just a few feet from Broadway.

Movement of earth farther up the hill, beyond the houses, also may be occurring. Geologists and engineers are monitoring the slope with town staff.

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even in August, Snake still bites

By Jim Stanford on August 18, 2011

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Lunch Counter, still thumping last week. Click to enlarge.

Because we never can get enough of these photos.

The Snake River is still running at nearly 7,000 cubic feet per second in the canyon above Alpine, about 2,000 cfs higher than average. I went down and ran the canyon last week for the first time since June, and found a surprisingly powerful river with many fun rapids.

The Snake has a good variety all summer long, with one set of rapids — Lunch Counter, Cottonwood — at their best in higher flows, and another set — Big Kahuna, Rope — more powerful at low water later in the season. The flow on the evening we ran the canyon was 8,500 cfs, a medium volume where both sets of rapids were kicking.

The Double Draw Rapid created by the mudslide is still one of the best, with bigger and better waves than I ever can recall at that spot. The emergency rock levee built by WyDOT downstream, however, is an eyesore.

At the Snake River Fund’s “Legends of the Snake” float trip and dinner last Friday, longtime outfitter Frank Ewing said flows in the canyon are staying higher than he has seen in more than 50 years of river running.

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