What happened at Mount Rainier?

  • Thursday, August 16, 2001 12:01am
  • News

The Associated Press

LONGMIRE — Melting glacier water continued to strip debris from a flank of Mount Rainier on Wednesday, sending car-sized boulders downstream and prompting rangers to close a popular trail.

A series of debris flows was triggered by unusually hot weather that caused the Kautz Glacier to pour water from its left side into a neighboring glacier’s valley, saturating loose glacial dirt and rock.

The sodden debris began to break loose Tuesday evening, sending millions of pounds of rock and mud down Van Trump Creek, and briefly closing the road to Paradise within Mount Rainier National Park.

“It looks like chunky concrete moving downstream — boulders the size of that porch,” said Steve Bailey, director of the Pierce County Department of Emergency Management, indicating a porch on a park visitor’s center at Longmire.

No one was hurt in either Tuesday night’s large debris flow or two smaller events around noon Wednesday. Rangers closed trails along the flow’s path after U.S. Geological Survey scientists spotted the fresh flows Wednesday.

Chief Ranger Jill Hawk had her staff round up hikers who had gone into the area to see the damage from Tuesday night. Several hikers were in the area of Comet Falls on Van Trump Creek — one of the most popular hikes in the park — when Wednesday’s flows came crashing through.

“It was a very exciting time for them — a lot of debris, dust, loud noise,” Hawk said.

This full report appears in today’s editions of the Peninsula Daily News. Or click onto “The Wire” to read the latest news from The Associated Press.

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