Huge California mudslide may have been triggered by drought

Reuters News
|
Posted: Sep 22, 2014 3:04 PM

(Reuters) - California's three-year drought might have triggered Mount Shasta's worst mudslide in two decades which damaged hiking trails and forced two roads to close over the weekend, a national park spokeswoman said on Monday.

Mud and debris began flowing down Mud Creek Canyon on the southeast side of Mt. Shasta, a 14,000-foot volcano about 50 miles south of the Oregon border, on Saturday afternoon and continued through the night, Shasta-Trinity National Park spokeswoman Andrea Capps said.

"The woman who called it in said the first sign of the slide was a sound like a freight train," Capps said. "The amount of power and intensity must have been incredible."

The earth and mud traveled for at least several miles before coming to a stop on Sunday morning, Capps said, overflowing roads and blocking up culverts. No injuries were reported and no structures damaged.

Capps said experts believe that the drought led to reduced snowpack over the glaciers which were holding water in place and increased their exposure to the sun, causing the worst deluge on the mountain in 20 years.

There are multiple glaciers on Mt. Shasta, and officials are uncertain whether similar conditions could cause other mudslides, Capps said.

The park service was cautioning visitors to be mindful of their surroundings and to stay away from the area of the slide because of "unpredictable conditions," Capps said.

(Reporting by Joaquin Palomino; Writing by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Richard Chang)