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Officials pin down source of Mt. Shasta mudslide

MT. SHASTA — The source of a mudslide that rocketed down the southeast side of Mt. Shasta over the weekend and closed two roads has likely been pinned down.

Shasta-Trinity National Forest officials say the slide appears to have originated at the Konwakiton Glacier. How the water began its torrential gush down the mountainside into Mud Creek Canyon is unknown. Officials still speculate intense heat from the sun's rays caused the glacier to shift or melt, releasing water that had originally been trapped by the ice acting as a natural dam. That water then gathered debris as it traveled.

"That is what we are guessing at this point. It's hard to know for sure," said Andrea Capps, Shasta-Trinity National Forest public information officer. "We still do think it was glacial water."

Capps added that a piece of the glacier did not break off, despite early reports to the contrary. Surveillance of the area shows the glacier is completely intact.

The mudslide was first reported at about 3 p.m. Saturday, following confirmation of a heavy debris flow rushing through Mud Creek Canyon. The flow rushed over Pilgrim Creek Road and U.S. Forest Service Road No. 31. No injuries and no structural damage were reported.

Crews remain on scene clearing the debris from the roads, but the roads will remain closed likely until the end of the week. Capps said good progress has been made on clearing both, especially Pilgrim Creek Road.

U.S. Forest Service officials say they are keeping a watchful eye on the weather, as the forecast for the rest of this week could prime conditions for more mudslides and flooding around the region. The National Weather Service reported a flash flood warning is in effect for Siskiyou County from 11 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 24, through 5 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 25. Areas already scarred by wildfires could see especially severe flash flooding.

"Roads and homes located below significantly burned slopes and at and very near the mouths of canyons below wildfire areas will be at risk for the potential of rapidly moving landslides," a notice from the Weather Service reads.

Up to two inches of rain could fall across the area, with more than half an inch expected for parts of Jackson County and more than an inch predicted for Crater Lake.

"We are very nervous about it," Capps said, adding that there are seven Mt. Shasta glaciers and that all could be affected by the downpour, especially if it is warm rain.