New Suite of Tools Launched for Examining Landslide Hazard Risks in Western North Carolina

A broken road caused by a slide.
NCDOT

The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality’s North Carolina Geological Survey (NCGS) and the University of North Carolina Asheville’s National Environmental Modeling and Analysis Center (NEMAC) has announced the launch of their new suite of tools that allows users to examine landslide hazard risk.

The Landslides in Western North Carolina website features an interactive mapping tool, a guided data tutorial, digital stories about landslides and historical landslide activity in the region, educational materials, and access to data from NC OneMap and other landslide resources from NCGS.

A key tool is the WNC Landslide Hazard Data Viewer,” says Greg Dobson, NEMAC’s Director of Geospatial Technology. “It displays information on over 4,500 landslides mapped by NCGS. It also shows the Landslide Hazard Ranking, which displays areas ranked at moderate or high risk of landslide occurrence in response to an extreme precipitation event—more than 5 to 6 inches of rain over a 24-hour period—and identifies potential landslide initiation locations and flow pathways.”

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The publicly available website and viewer were designed with the needs of community planners, emergency management personnel, educators, and real estate professionals in mind. At launch, the viewer contains data on landslide activity data for the five western North Carolina counties that have been verified and mapped by NCGS (Buncombe, Henderson, Macon, Polk, and Watauga), with partial data available for the rest of the state.

“The project website also includes several Esri-based StoryMaps,” points out Karin Rogers, NEMAC’s Interim Director. “These digital stories provide easy-to-understand information about what landslides are, and why—and when—they may happen. We also created digital stories that give overviews of historical landslide information for the region, like those that occurred during the 1916 and 2004 floods. The website also includes downloadable educational resources and links to even more landslide resources. It’s a comprehensive source of information.”

The Landslides in Western North Carolina Mapping project is the product of the Hurricane Recovery Act of 2005 (Section 6), directing the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality to provide maps of landslide vulnerability for the 19 western North Carolina counties suffering the greatest damage from Hurricanes Frances and Ivan. The NCGS, a unit of NCDEQ, partnered with NEMAC to support the data delivery and visualization of accurate, current, and useful landslide data through this suite of web products.

Visit landslidesncgs.org for additional information and to access the suite of tools.