"Mount St. Helens ~ Born of Fire & Ice" Top 5 Page for this destination Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument by starship
Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument Travel Guide: 124 reviews and 314 photos
What were you doing on May 18, 1980? Was the eruption of Mount St. Helens the kind of event where you remember exactly where you were and what you were doing when you heard the news? The eruption of Mount St. Helens was a natural disaster so monumental that it could only be rivaled by other natural disasters in American history such as the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 and the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906!
On that spring day in 1980 at 8:32am, a 5.1 magnitude earthquake was followed seconds later by the monumental collapse of Mount St. Helens' summit which literally blew off the north face of the mountain and released a lateral blast that changed the mountain forever!! Or at least until the next eruption....
The powerful earthquake had suddenly released and spewed forth the gas rich magma and super-heated groundwater which had been trapped inside the mountain. The resulting lateral blast literally flattened 230 miles of forest in less than 3 minutes! The magma had melted the snow & ice mantle of the volcano causing a landslide and flood said to cover 5 miles in about 40 seconds, or the area between the volcano and what is now Johnstons Ridge Observatory. Volcanic ash and pumice, shot 15 miles into the atmosphere, was so thick that day became night and everything was engulfed in a smothering cloud across eastern Washington state. The darkness was so complete that streetlights automatically lit at 9:50 in the morning in cities such as Yakima, Ellensburg, and Ritzville. Heavy concentrations of ash were swept over states as far east as Idaho, Montana and beyond. Within a matter of minutes, the enormous landslide and blast had ceased but the eruption column, mudflows and pyroclastic flows continued through the following morning. Sadly, 57 people lost their lives during this event.
In the aftermath of the eruption, the devastation was clear. Old growth forests lay leafless and flattened into a pattern that resembled flattened fur at a distance or as some would describe it, as a lunar landscape. Pictures I have seen made the downed trees look like a herringbone pattern to me. Further on, melting snow & ice, and mudflows carrying debris caused another type of death & destruction on the Toutle River.
Mount St. Helens Today
Decades later, Mount St. Helens would let us know that she was only sleeping and not to be forgotten. In September, 2004, a white plume of smoke filled the sky above the volcano! Thousands of small earthquakes were recorded, but Mount St. Helens is biding her time.
- Pros:Magnificent beyond belief!
- Cons:It could all happen again!
- In a nutshell:Formidable, Breathtaking, You Won't Want to Leave
The Johnston Ridge Observatory is also a state-of-the-art center featuring interpretive displays, eyewitness accounts, a... more travel advice
The Johnston Ridge Observatory is named in honor of David A. Johnston, a U.S. Geological Survey volcanologist who was on... more travel advice
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