Mt. Hood avalanche leaves mark

Nature flung a rock scarf flung down the northeast shoulder of Mt. Hood.

Sometime in the last few weeks, a mile-long rock avalanche happened on Newton Creek glacier. Photographer Darryl Lloyd of Hood River noticed it Aug. 19 and hired a pilot to take him for a closer look. Lloyd said on Aug. 27 that he believes the slide happened in the past few weeks.

He reported it to Richard Iverson, hydrologist with the United States Geological Survey, who said he viewed the slide for the first time Thursday, and plans to check it out on the ground Wednesday, along with other colleagues from the Cascade Volcano Observatory in Vancouver, Wash.

"It is relatively fresh, though we don't know when it occurred," Iverson said. "It was in the last few weeks, based on the appearance of the rock.

"It's pretty clear it originated on the headwall of Newton Glacier, and spilled out over the glacier," he said. "Not much of it made it beyond the glacier."

Lloyd describe the avalanche debris as "yellowish, pulverized" material, with a few house-sized boulders.

The slide was first thought to be close to a year old, but Iverson has revised that estimate, based on his aerial examination, as well as other circumstances.

"My favorite guess is it happend last week during that heavy rain we got. It might explain why no one heard it," as few people were on the mountain because of the bad weather. Or, it could have happened in the dead of night.

Originally, Iverson had thought the slide was the one in November 2000 that caused massive washouts in Newton Creek and White River. But upon further examination, it appears this slide is a new one with an older rock avalanche that underlies it, he said.

"The lower tongue of yellowish-looking debris into Newton Creek valley is older deposit," he said. The new avalanche was "roughly a few hundred thousand cubic meters," in volume, he said. However, very little appears to have entered any local streams.

"It all stayed high, close to where it originated, and didn't have the momentum to go further than it did," Iverson said

He said that "in the grand scale, geologically, this is not terribly important, in that it has not impacted on resources or structures.

"But it is a good example of the kind of event that could occur on a much larger scale. Then it would have real ramifcations," Iverson said.

"With such light snowpack, the glaciers are largely bare ice and it could be that had there been more of a snowpack it might have mobilized and turned into a slurry and made its way downstream," Iverson said.

Ultimately, this new slide won't change the appearance of the mountain, Iverson said.

"You rally have to look at it pretty cloely to see where it came from," he said. "There's brighter rock exposed with peeling away of old rock, but with time it will weather to the color of its old rock."

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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