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Why do so many more sinkholes open up after a hurricane?

Monday, June 18, 2018

The front page story in our local newspaper, The Villages Daily Sun, right after Hurricane Irma was about all the sinkholes that suddenly appeared around the area. While it is always surprising when a sinkhole abruptly collapses, storms are known to activate them for several reasons:

 •• The normal development of sinkholes involves pockets of acidic water slowly dissolving the limestone karst that underlays the soil in most of Florida. Heavy rain and flooding during a hurricane speeds up the process, and organic debris in the water increases its acidity.

•• The individual soil particles lose their natural ability to adhere to each other when they become saturated after heavy rain, and standing water adds weight over a sinkhole void underground, making it more likely to collapse.

•• Smaller solution sinkholes, called “chimney sinkholes,” are also more likely to appear after a hurricane. We noticed a new one, shown below, at a golf course near us the week after Irma.

   They look like a tortoise or armadillo hole at first glance but, on closer examination, part of the opening will extend straight down and some are big enough for a child to fall into.

•• A hurricane that follows a period of drought is especially likely to cause sinkholes.  Drought lowers the water table and creates pockets of air in the void spaces of the underlying karst that once were filled with water; then the heavy hurricane rains weigh down the soil above it. With the buoyancy that the water is the karst pockets once provided now gone, collapse is more likely to occur.

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Here’s links to a collection of our other blog posts about SINKHOLES:

What can I do if the insurance company denies my claim for a sinkhole loss in Florida?

What is a chimney sinkhole? 

What are the warning signs of a sinkhole? 

What causes sinkholes? 

How can homebuyers protect themselves against buying a house over a sinkhole?  

What is my chance of buying a Florida home over a sinkhole? 

• How does a repaired sink hole under a house affect its market value?

• Where are sinkholes most likely to occur in Florida?  

Are there sinkholes in The Villages, Florida?

Should I be concerned about an old sinkhole on a property?

• Should I be concerned about my house if a sinkhole opens in my neighbor's yard? 

What are the Florida law regarding sinkhole insurance?

Can a home inspector determine if there are any sinkholes on a property?

Is it safe to buy a house with sinkhole foundation repair?

How can I tell whether my house foundation problems are caused by a sinkhole or expansive clay soil? 

   Visit our SINKHOLES page for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles.

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