Mudflows are rivers of liquid and flowing mud on the surface of normally dry land, often caused by a combination of brush loss and subsequent heavy rains. Mudflows can develop when water saturates the ground, such as from rapid snowmelt or heavy or long periods of rainfall, causing a thick liquid downhill flow of earth.

Mudflows are different from other earth movements, such as landslides, slope failures, and even moving saturated soil masses in which masses of earth, rock, or debris move down a slope where there is not a flowing characteristic.

Damage from mudflows is covered by flood insurance; damage from landslides and other earth movements is not. Mudslides can also be covered, if defined exactly as the Standard Flood Insurance Policy defines Mudflow.

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