Mt. Shasta mudflow prompts flood warnings, road closures

Sep 21, 2014 9:08 PM by Charlene Cheng

Looking out at Mud Creek, which runs on the south side of Mt. Shasta, it's easy to see where it gets its name.

"The kind of concrete slurry that was moving through here last night has diminished to an almost water slurry," said Steve Bachmann, a hydrologist with the U.S. Forest Service.

Forest Service officials believe that a large amount of water melted off the Konwakiton Glacier on Mt. Shasta and was sent down the stream channel, forming what's known as a mudflow, or debris flow.

"With the drought, we're aware that we may see more activity as far as debris flows, because the drought paradoxically leaves more ice exposed, the insulating blanket of snow pack is gone," Bachmann said.

The runoff starts as pure water from the glacier, but by the time it gets down to the roads, it's mixed with ash and debris.

That mixture can be hazardous for motorists.

Crews are working to divert the water and clean up the road.

In the meantime, Forest Service officials will continue to monitor the situation, and any other incidents that might arise before we get some much-needed relief from the heat.

"We're hoping that we'll actually see cooler temperatures, which will shut off the spigot really quickly. But for the time being, we're going to continue to watch the glaciers really quickly, and not just Konwakiton, but the other glaciers on the mountain as well," Bachmann said.


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