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Experts talk about chances of sinkholes in Missouri after recent rains

Published On: Aug 14 2013 06:37:27 PM CDT
Sinkholes
COLUMBIA, Mo. -

Crews are expected to wrap up their inspection today of the grounds around the Florida sinkhole that swallowed up parts of a three-story building. The 100-foot sinkhole opened up Sunday night at a resort six-miles from Walt Disney World displacing nearly 40 guests.

With the recent rains in Missouri, we're asking the leading sinkhole expert in Missouri, Doug Gouzie if similar incidents could happen in Mid-Missouri. He tells ABC 17 News sinkholes usually happen when heavy rains come after long periods of dry weather. Gouzie believes there might have been enough rain to prevent underground erosion.

Over the past five months there have been several sinkholes occurring everywhere from Ohio to Florida. There was even a 60 foot long sinkhole just south of Jefferson City. According to the USGS, Missouri is one of the seven most susceptible states to sinkholes.

With recent large rain accumulations, there's a chance Missouri can start seeing more sinkholes open up. But Gouzie believes that may not be the case.

“Given how many continuous days of rain we've had it might in fact be enough water underground to sort of support all the weight of the water as it landed on top of land surfaces and floods,” Gouzie said.

Gouzie said the southern two-thirds of Missouri is where the majority of the sinkholes occur in the state. But that's where the majority of the rains have been. Gouzie believes if there was a sinkhole about to happen, those rains may have filled it up with water. When that happens and heavy rains come, it reduces the stress the weight of the water on the surface causes. Therefore it would prevent the sinkhole from opening up.

“I think we've almost had so much rain that the soil has stayed wet enough that it never quite dried out to the point of becoming brittle,” Gouzie said.

Gouzie said his goal is to be able to predict which direction and how far away a sinkhole could open up from an existing sinkhole.

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