When Trump announced plans to “drain the swamp” even we didn’t think he meant it literally. That is, until a sinkhole appeared on the White House’s North Lawn this week.
Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up.
Voice of America reporter Steve Herman tweeted photos of the sinkhole on Tuesday. Cordoned off with caution tape and two measly cones in the most comical way, the hole appears to be just outside the office of press secretary Hogan Gidley.
“This week I’ve been observing a sinkhole on the White House North Lawn, just outside the press briefing room, growing larger by the day,” tweeted Herman, who later told Quartz it had become “noticeably” bigger.
The National Park Service (NPS), which oversees the grounds, told USA Today it is monitoring the situation and plans to bring in experts.
“Sinkholes, like this one, are common occurrences in the Washington area following heavy rain like the DC metro area has experienced in the last week,” NPS spokeswoman Jenny Anzelmo-Sarles told the publication in an email. “We do not believe it poses any risk to the White House or is representative of a larger problem.”
We’ll get to the science side of things in a minute. First, can we all please take a moment to applaud the Twittersphere for one of its wittiest campaigns yet?
Dictionary.com even joined the ranks of sinkhole trollers.
Let’s also not forget that a sinkhole formed just outside Trump’s private estate Mar-a-Lago in Florida last year, issuing a travel alert in the town of Palm Beach. All jokes aside, the sinkhole saga does not illustrate a vortex offering entry into a parallel universe where America’s presidential cabinet has been turned into a reality television show.
Sinkholes are most common in “karst terrain” where rock underneath the land – such as limestone, gypsum, and salt beds – is easily and naturally dissolved by groundwater. When it rains, this rock is dissolved and water is held in the open space until there is not enough support for the land above to stay intact. The result is a sudden collapse of land that can be small or massive – some sinkholes cover hundreds of acres and are more than 30 meters (100 feet) deep. They can even swallow entire neighborhoods.
Washington, DC received more than 15 centimeters (6 inches) of rain over eight consecutive days, about 5 centimeters (2 inches) more than the average rainfall for the entire month of May.
Or maybe Melania had something to do with it.