40 years ago this morning, all hell broke loose on Mt. St. Helens

by allthoughtswork

Mount St. Helens erupts in spectacular fashion on May 18, 1980. The northern face of the mountain collapsed, and an ash plume spewed about 15 miles high, darkening skies nearby and in Eastern Washington and beyond. (Seattle Times archive, 1980)


How’s this for eerie? I was reading the description of the Mt. St. Helens blast in a New York Times article at 8:32 AM this morning, the exact time of that blast 40 years ago.

In the Company of Volcanoes: How fast is volcano-fast?

I was ten when Mt. St. Helens blew its sideways cork and all I remember from my Midwest childhood was a weird grey powder falling loosely from the sky a few days later. It was gone with the next rain and I didn’t give it another thought until my vulcanology obsession erupted a few decades later.

(This map is a big, fat liar because it fell further east than that.)

Volcanic hazards: 1.2 Volcanic Ash - OpenLearn - Open University - S186_1



When I made my inaugural visit to Portland, Oregon, in 2005, my priorities were 1. Get a hotel, 2. Road trip to Mt. St. Helens. Not even the Pacific Ocean could hold a candle to an active volcano for this land lubber.

MOUNT ST. HELENS - BIGGEST ASH-HOLE IN THE WEST Souvenir 16 oz Coffee Mug Cup | eBay


It’d knock your socks off just how fast the apocalyptic terrain has revegetated and returned to normal since then, it sure surprised the scientists. Just goes to show you that nature doesn’t give one hairy damn about little things like volcanoes or viral pandemics or humans. We’re history, literally and figuratively.

Mount St. Helens before and after the eruption of 1980 : pics

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