Since the beginning of January, the Pittsburgh area has seen almost twice the amount of rain fall that is typical for this time of the year. And Meteorologist Steve Teeling predicts more of the same for the rest of the winter.
Over saturation of the ground has lead to mud, rock and landslides along Allegheny River Blvd. and Route 837 along with numerous side roads.
One particular hillside has been a thorn in the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation's side for about the last month and a half. Crews worked overnight, closing the ramp from Route 51 to the Parkway West outbound trying to sure up the hillside. But Thursday morning as mud and debris came cascading down. That ramp was then closed once again.
According to geotechnical consultant Dr. James Hamil, this region is recognized as one of the major areas of landslide susceptibility and severity in the United States.
"We start out with topography, our steep hill sides, next is geology, we have weak rocks and slippery soils," Hamil said.
Those factors, along with climate and land use practices, are the driving reasons why this area is so prone to mudslides.
While the forces of nature can not be prevented, there are steps that can be taken, long term, to ensure that the current problems we're seeing are not part of a continuous cycle.
Hamil said, "The engineering technologies available to do a lot better job with slopes than what we are currently doing in the Pittsburgh area. The knowledge is available, the construction techniques are available."
However, being able to utilize this technology involves time, money and political will.
According to Hamil, another factor that could lead to landslides is the practice of throwing unwanted items over hillsides.
He said western Pennsylvanians have a tendency to toss anything from soil and dead trees to garbage, appliances and building supplies.