A melting alpine glacier on Mount Shasta in northern California created a messy situation as the flowing ice water turned into a mudslide that churned through the forest below and forced local road closures.
The Shasta-Trinity National Forest confirmed a debris flow formed on Saturday, Sept. 20, after the Konwakiton Glacier released excess water. Mud continues to stretch across some local roads while workers attempt to clear the area.
Pilgrim Creek Road and Forest Service Road 31 remain closed. No injuries have been reported, and no structures have been damaged. Though a sparsely populated area, forest visitors have been cautioned that similar incidents can occur on other locations around the mountain.
With the chance of rainfall in the near forecast, mudslide conditions could be enhanced.
According to AccuWeather Senior Expert Ken Clark, a couple doses of rain could unleash over the area through Saturday. A small threat of snow over the high mountains, including Mount Shasta, could also hinder clean-up conditions.
Should the expected rain sweep through the area, roads could remain closed for several days before the mud can dry and be cleared.
Mud has already flowed far enough to invade McCloud Lake and the McCloud River, impacting water quality and fishing conditions as waters could turn turbulent for several weeks.
While without clear evidence as to how the glacier initially melted, theories from the Forest Service point to the state's widespread, devastating drought conditions. With a lack of moisture and cloud cover, local officials said the drought conditions left the mountaintops exposed to excessive sunlight.