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When are sinkholes most likely to occur?
Wednesday, September 22, 2021
Sinkholes are most likely to open up when there has been a long drought followed by normal rainfall. And a mild drought followed by the excessive rainfall from a hurricane can also increase the incidence of sinkholes. "A large rain event can weigh the soil down and can cause sinkholes to form,” according to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. "When the water level in the underlying limestone aquifer is depressed (due to drought or consumptive uses), the void spaces that once held water now are filled with air. Water provides some buoyancy and can keep the overlying geologic material stable. When the void contains air, it is less competent, and when a large rain event weighs down the overburden, it can collapse into the underlying air-filled void."
The last extended period of drought in Florida occurred from 2011 through the first half of 2012, which was followed by higher-than-normal sinkhole activity. Florida also had a two-year period during 2004 and 2005 when eight rain-laden hurricanes hit the state.
But structural damage that resembles sinkhole activity under a home can also occur due to clay soil during the same drought-followed-by-rainfall periods. To read more about clay soil issues, go to our article How can I tell whether my house foundation problems are caused by a sinkhole or expansive clay soil?
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