Never before has a long unstable mountainside towering over a valley in Romsdal been so threatening as this week. The few residents still living below it were facing their longest evacuation period yet.
Now it’s the area of the mountain called Veslemannen that’s causing the most concern. Several landslides already and noisy rumbling prompted geologists to post “red alert” warnings once again, and it may be awhile before it’s eased.
“We can’t do anything other than just wait and see what happens, as the situation continues from day to day,” Einar Anda, a geologist with the state agency in charge, NVE, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK).
There were several slides on Wednesday and during the night. The biggest sent several hundred cubic meters of earth and rocks plunging down the steep mountainside at around 10:30pm Wednesday night.
(See video from the slide here on NRK – external link, text in Norwegian).
The mountainside had been rumbling more noisily than ever during the day on Wednesday, reinforcing the decision to evacuate the 11 residents of long-held family farms in the Rauma area below. Their lives have been in upheaval for years, and questions swirl as to why they stay, but many feel they have little choice.
This week’s evacuation is the fifth this year alone, and the 10th since worrisome movement of the mountain that’s under constant monitoring began in earnest in 2014. They’ve usually been able to move home again after a few days, but not this time.
“We’ve seen boulders that are 10 meters (more than 30 feet) by 10 meters crashing down,” NVE’s chief geologist Lars Harald Blikra tod NRK. “Now there’s also great rumbling within the lower portion of the mountain.” That means residents likely won’t be able to return any time soon.