California’s Most Landslide-Prone Counties

California is bracing for what experts call a “Super El Niño” this winter. Between the months of December and February, warm ocean temperatures are expected to bring heavy rainfall to parts of the Golden State. Like the El Niño of 1997-1998, the event could result in dangerous flooding and slides.

Communities like Malibu are already making concrete plans to weather the storm. But Malibu is not alone in its vulnerability. New FEMA rankings of the 25 most landslide-prone counties in the U.S. include four California locales.

FEMA examined over 3,000 U.S. counties for its analysis, focusing on the years 2010 to 2021. Based on the National Risk Index, the following California counties were deemed most vulnerable to slides:

  1. Santa Cruz (#15 nationally)
  2. Mendocino (#17 nationally)
  3. Monterey (#18 nationally)
  4. Calaveras (#19 nationally)

America's top seven landslide-prone counties were all in Oregon: Lincoln, Douglas, Coos, Lane, Wheeler, Tillamook and Linn.

Wet weather is just one contributor to these events. Other influencing factors include geology, earthquakes or volcanic eruptions, and human activity.

List and data were compiled by FEMA and may not represent statistics on all counties.


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