Sitka GeoTask Force

On August 18, 2015, rapid, heavy rain triggered more than 40 landslides on Baranof and Chichagof Islands. The biggest slide was on Harbor Mountain in Sitka and stretched 1,200 feet. It killed three men and caused massive damage to property on Kramer Avenue.

The community, led by the Sitka Fire Department, came together to support the search for lost men, clear roads and repair damaged property. Sitka Sound Science Center helped gather a team of geophysics experts and volunteers from Alaska and around the country. This overwhelming response of dedicated volunteers marked the start of the Sitka GeoTask Force.

Members of the GeoTask Force collaborated to pool existing information about the slide area and to determine the next steps in terms of research, synthesis and risk analysis. These experts and volunteers filled in knowledge gaps relating to the risk of natural disasters in the region and shared relevant information with the community.

Click here to see a report summaries and a list of collaborators.

Click here for a slideshow highlighting the factors contributing to the landslide.


Landslide Early Warning System Workshop

In 2017, The Sitka Sound Science Center, at the request of the City and Borough of Sitka, convened a 3-day workshop with a group of landslide experts from around the country to discuss the possibility for a Landslide Early Warning System in Sitka. Scientists from the United States Forest Service, Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys, Sitka Tribe of Alaska, National Park Service, United States Geological Survey, University of Delaware Disaster Hazard Program, Shannon & Wilson, and the National Weather Service rolled up their sleeves and worked on a plan to move debris landslide science forward. Landslides in Sitka are rapid, low frequency high impact events, making early warning systems challenging.

Visit MesoWest, a precipitation forecasting site.

Click here to see the Advanced Hydrologic Prediction service and follow Indian River’s water levels in real-time.