A TikToker and Alaskan wilderness guide managed to save a man from driving right into a rockslide last week after she caught the start of it during a video shoot.
Alana Davis, aka the @thedirtyexplorer was making a video on a beach near the North Douglas Highway in Alaska on April 6 when a rock fall started right above her filming site. She scrambled out of the way with a few very well-chosen swear words. But on her way out of danger, she spotted a truck coming around a blind curve on the road at 50 mph. With a lot of shouting and flailing, she managed to stop the driver before he made a potentially fatal mistake:
More than 500 cubic yards of material fell on to the highway. A few days later, a second slide occurred in the same spot, only with twice the material. This particular cliff will now be getting a catchment area to prevent any future trucks from getting crushed.
So I’ve been trying to find tips and tricks for surviving or at least avoiding rock falls and landslides as a driver, and I’m not finding much, which is both not surprising and the perfect anxiety fuel. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, about 25 to 50 people are killed by landslides every year. The feds advice for driving through a landslide? Don’t:
Be especially alert when driving. Bridges may be washed out, and culverts overtopped. Do not cross flooding streams!! Turn Around, Don’t Drown®!. Embankments along roadsides are particularly susceptible to landslides. Watch the road for collapsed pavement, mud, fallen rocks, and other indications of possible debris flows.
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This advice is more for Californians who have landslides during the occasional heavy rain. This slide in Alaska occurred due to high winds pulling the tree roots on the cliff face, officials told New York Post:
Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities spokesman Sam Dapcevich said about 500 cubic yards of material fell to the road from a cliff about 500 feet up the hillside near mile 11 of North Douglas Highway on April 6. Crews immediately responded and cleaned up the slide debris to reopen the highway.
On April 10, a second slide took place at the same location with approximately twice the quantity of material reaching the road, including several car-sized boulders that bounced across the road and over the guardrail, finally landing on the beach or in the water.
“It was very windy during both slide events, many tree roots are now exposed that appear to have grown in the rock crevices. The wind moving the trees likely jostled the rock and could have been the cause of both slides. There’s still a lot of rock up there that could come down in the future,” Dapcevich said.
I don’t need to worry about this, because I live in flat, boring Southeast Michigan, but I’m also never not going to worry about this. Landslides are definitely much more threatening than Stevie Nicks would have you believe. The best advice seems to be to keep your eyes peeled and your ears open when driving around cliff faces, especially if you see any debris, water or mud in the road.