Oregon officials closed a stretch of coastal highway after the formation of what one official called “a monster” sinkhole larger than any the region has seen in 20 years.
The Oregon Department of Transportation announced the closing in a series of posts to Twitter, which included photos of the giant hole in the ground and one aerial video recorded by Kyle Rice, a local drone hobbyist.
“It’s a monster for sure,” said Jared Castle, Oregon DOT spokesman for southwest Oregon. “This is a very unusual event and is a sinkhole of a magnitude that we don’t see but once every couple decades.”
Castle said officials expect the sinkhole that emerged Thursday to join up with an existing sinkhole nearby, which measures 50 feet in diameter with a depth of 50 to 70 feet. Castle could not provide an estimate for the size of the new sinkhole, but said it is the largest southwest Oregon has seen since 1996.
A sinkhole that formed early one November morning that year swallowed two tractor-trailers, plunging them 50 feet below the road they were on that dark night. No serious injuries resulted.
The same was true on Thursday: No one was injured and no cars were swallowed by the new hole, which opened up in a parking lot between the Fireside Diner and a Chevron gas station, along U.S. 101 in Harbor, Oregon.
The original sinkhole opened up on Dec. 13 after a period of heavy rain and has swelled to its current size from an initial depth of seven feet and width roughly the size of a volleyball, Castle said. Crews have been working to clear a resulting blockage in an underground drainage, which has forced water flows to find another way to the sea from the nearby hills and thereby created other such voids, he added.
SOURCE: Niraj Chokshi
The Washington Post