A sinkhole refers to a depression that forms in the ground when water runs through and washes away an underlying layer of rock or soil. Sinkholes are commonly found in areas where water from the ground dissolves the rock underneath the soil. Limestone, salt beds, and gypsum are some of the soluble rocks that are prone to sinkholes. Broken water lines can also cause sinkholes.
Sinkholes can occur anytime, anywhere, and some areas are more prone to sinkholes than others. For instance, Florida has a long list of sinkhole incidents through the years. Its soil is made up of limestone, and the porous ground can lead to an occasional collapse. Because of this, Florida sees sinkholes more frequently than any other state in the US. Other states that are susceptible to sinkholes are Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Alabama, Texas, and Kentucky.
Here are several sinkhole incidents in various areas in Florida from April to June 2018:
- April 25 – At least eight possible sinkholes appeared at the Wynchase Townhomes complex, located at Southwest 42nd Place in Ocala. The holes formed on a hillside that leads to a retention pond. Residents from eight townhomes were evacuated as officials assessed the area. It was reported that some of the holes were 15 to 25 feet wide. Engineers used a radar that penetrates the ground to determine whether or not the holes pose a threat to the structural integrity of the homes.
- April 26 – A large sinkhole opened on Westside, at 5300 block of 118th Street near Sundown Drive in Jacksonville. This led to road closures news the Ringhaver Park.
- April 27 – Water explosions caused six sinkholes to form in Ocala. Some of the holes were about 15 to 25 feet wide, and two of these were filled with water. A resident saw water bubbling at a retention pond, then saw five water explosions that shot water in the air. Officials said it could be due to an irrigation water main break.
- May 12 – A sinkhole that was 15 feet wide and 15 feet deep opened when AT&T subcontractors busted a water main during an excavation at Cooper City’s Biltmore Grove. It also caused water to flow from the roadway.
- May 21 – Four sinkholes formed at SE 79th McLawren and 171st McAlpin Street in Calumet Grove, The Villages. Officials said the largest sinkhole was 25 feet wide and 30 feet deep. Two holes opened on individual properties, while the other one opened on the road. The fourth sinkhole formed beneath a lake near the Nancy Lopez Legacy golf course.
- May 22 – Multiple sinkholes opened at Forest High School in Marion County, Ocala. The holes were 15 and 20 feet wide and formed in a retention area that is adjacent to the parking lot. It was reported that the holes appeared in the same community where sinkholes opened recently.
- May 31 – A large sinkhole opened at the neighborhood of Green Valley Country Club in Clermont, near the southern entrance to the subdivision located off State Road 50. Some golfers didn’t notice the hole that was on the property of the Mormon Church.
- June 17 – A sinkhole formed outside the main entrance of Arlington Ridge. This is a gated retirement community that is located about five miles from downtown Leesburg. It appeared at the road that passes through the community. No one sustained injuries and no homes or properties were threatened. Officials close the road to assess the area and repair the sinkhole.
- June 25 – A hole appeared at Moon Lake, located at the 11790 block of Pearl Drive in the Caribbean Estates mobile park in Pasco County. With a depth of 10 feet and width of 15 feet, the hole opened in the backyards of two homes. Residents of six homes evacuated, while five of the homes were red-tagged to inform everyone that the properties are unlivable at the moment.
No one can predict when and where sinkholes will occur, and there’s nothing one can do to prevent them, but knowing the sinkhole situation in the area will at least prepare you if and when holes appear. One of the things that you can do is consider getting sinkhole insurance. You can also look for signs that a sinkhole may form near or on your property. These include cracks on the floor, ceiling, and walls, leaning trees and fences, and large cracks on sidewalks and driveways. As in any other area, do your research should you want to move to Florida. Make site visits and ask for feedback from city officials and residents.
If you want to know more about the sinkholes in your area, check out sinkholemaps.com, an online resource of sinkhole information in many areas in Florida. You can search sinkhole-related incidents in your area for your peace of mind.