After hearing the loud rumble that caused the curtains to blow in my mother walked over to the crib to check on me. It was Mother’s Day. She thought the noise came from someone slamming lids on dumpsters but soon found out on the news that Mount St Helens in Washington State had erupted. I was 5 months old and fast asleep so this is where my personal account ends.
What seemed like neighbourhood noise to my mother in Surrey, BC was far more destructive in Skamania County, Washington.
- This was the deadliest and most economically destructive volcanic event in the history of the United States [source].
- Fifty-seven people were killed; 250 homes, 47 bridges, 15 miles (24 km) of railways, and 185 miles (298 km) of highway were destroyed. The eruption caused a massive debris avalanche, reducing the elevation of the mountain’s summit from 9,677 ft (2,950 m) to 8,365 ft (2,550 m) and replacing it with a 1 mile (1.6 km) wide horseshoe-shaped crater [source].
- The eruption came with an earthquake that rocked 5.1 on the Richter scale [source].
- The largest landslide in recorded history swept down the mountain at speeds of 70 to 150 miles per hour and buried the North Fork of the Toutle River under an average of 150 feet of debris. Some areas are covered by as much as 600 feet. In all, approximately 23 square miles of material was removed from the mountain [source].
The volcano, which was actually named by Captain George Vancouver [source] still has recorded volcanic activity. This includes steam clouds that sent everyone in this digital age over to the Volcanocam to check out the volcano in 2004, 2006 and 2008.
Thirty years later, National Geographic reports that Mount St Helens is still highly dangerous and that Washington State is the second biggest threat when it comes to potential volcanic activity. Mount St Helens is also only second only to Hawaii’s Kilauea when it comes to a “very high risk” of volcanic activity.
Today you can still get out and enjoy the area, filled with hiking trails, recreational activities, and amazing lookout points.
As a side note, I think it’s incredibly awesome that the WAstateDNR – Department of Natural Resources posted the photos (captioned above) to Flickr for the anniversary