MT. SHASTA – Forecasters on Monday called off a flood watch for the McCloud area after a glacier broke off Mt. Shasta over the weekend and sent a mudflow just east of town — but it’s not all good news for the tiny Siskiyou County town.
U.S. Forest Service officials announced Monday that sediment and mud had seeped into Lake McCloud and the lower McCloud River, meaning poor fishing conditions for a town that relies heavily on tourists looking to take home a few trout.
“People come up here to fish, and that’s going to have a pretty big impact on our little town,” said McCloud Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors President Claudette Silvera. “It is a big fishing destination.”
Silvera said tourists turned off by the murky waters — normally known for their stunning clarity — will have a ripple effect on the rest of the town, too.
“It’s going to impact our hotels and our restaurants,” she said. “But we’re just going to have to hope it’s not long-term.”
Meanwhile, even the canceled flood watch still doesn’t mean there’s no chance of the mudflow being reactivated.
Andrea Capps, a spokeswoman for the Forest Service, said there are specific weather conditions that need to happen for optimal cleanup — rain, but the cold kind, which would likely translate to snow on the mountain that would freeze glaciers enough not to break off. Warm rain, on the other hand, could lead to even worse conditions, she said.
Capps said some precipitation is forecasted for later in the week, so it’ll just depend on how warm or cold it turns out to be.
In the meantime, Capps said cleanup crews are having a hard time doing their job because the mud is still so wet. If cleanup goes well, the closed roads will reopen this weekend at the very earliest, she said.
“If that doesn’t happen, all bets are off,” Capps said.
Officials aren’t sure what caused the glacier to break off about midway up the mountain Saturday afternoon, but they believe it might be drought-related, since the peak has been baking in sun far longer than it normally would be.
That same drought already posed a threat to McCloud in the form of little snow, Silvera said, since the area is normally a destination for winter sports enthusiasts.
But, she said, they made it through, and can again.
“We survived last year not having snow, and I believe that we will do the same this year,” she said. “We’re still here and moving, so we’ll survive this one too.”
Silvera noted that McCloud actually had a successful summer, with lots of weddings booked in town, so people clearly see its value as more than just a snow and fishing destination.
“It’s a little regretful and sad … but there are certainly other things that people can come and do,” she said. “We’re feeling good about that.”
Silvera said town residents are joking about all the natural disasters the area has had lately, including the devastating Boles Fire last week in Weed.
“We’ve kind of joked around town that we had a big fire and we have water (issues), and now what’s next?” she said.
Fortunately, the mudflow isn’t anticipated to impact the Shasta Rail Trail, said April Gray, president of the Great Shasta Rail Trail Association.
Gray said it’s too early to say for sure, since weather could change this week, but right now it appears the trail is high enough above the mudflow area that it’s doing fine.
“It’s made a bit of a mess, but it hasn’t gotten high enough to impact (the trail),” she said.
That’s another sign of hope for the town, Silvera said, since it’s also known for its hiking opportunities.
“People know the beauty and good things we’ve got up here,” she said.
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