Tuesday, May 18, 2010

May 18, 1980

It's been 30 years since the eruption of Mount St. Helens.

We were living in Spokane when it happened. We'd gotten up that Sunday, had breakfast, and drove to the north part of Spokane (we lived on the South Hill then) to help friends build their house. None of us who were there that morning had turned on a radio or TV, so we were unaware what had happened several hundred miles to the southwest.

Sometime in the afternoon, as we were returning home, we noticed a huge black cloud on the southwest horizon. Thinking that it was a thunderstorm approaching, we hurried to get home before it broke. But the closer we got to home, the darker it became...even the street lights started to come on. Strange thunderstorm!

When we got home, we turned on the TV to find out what was going on...that's when we learned of the eruption. Businesses were closed for most of the week (as was most modes of transportation) because of the ash, which was as fine as baby powder and clogged engine filters. We spent Monday hosing off the roof of the house and the sidewalk. Everyone else in the neighborhood were doing the same thing. In fact, we all used so much water, we ran the nearby water tower dry! I don't recall how much ash we got...probably not more than about an 1"; however, places like Ritzville bore the brunt of the ash fall...they had drifts of ash several feet deep.

Experts who were watching the mountain had anticipated an eruption; however, the power of the blast were much more than had been anticipated. A 5.1 earthquake below the volcano that morning triggered the blast which blew off the top 1,300 feet of Mount St. Helens, sending 3.7 billion cubic yards of debris to the northwest. Temperatures in the blast zone were estimated to reach 600 degrees and trees along the path of the blast were broken off and laid down like dominoes. The avalanche of debris that rushed down the North Toutle River, raised the river as much as 600 feet in some spots, wiping out bridges and burying roads. The eruption killed 57 people.


Blogger hitchup: Vickie and David said...

We were living in Sweet Home, OR during the MtSH eruptions. Friends lived in Ritzville and had to take in the stranded drivers on I-90 for the 3 days.
Our DD was born just after midnight the day after the 2nd blast and we had ash way down in OR on the way to the hospital.

Monday, July 12, 2010  

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