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Mt. Saint Helens, May 18, 1980

It was a quiet Sunny Sunday morning. I was outside and the spousal unit was sleeping — until the Mountain blew her top. Boom Boom Boom. We have metal a metal roof on this ancient farm house and the booms were louder indoors. In the city few if any people heard the massive roar of the volcano coming back to life. But those of us living north of the mountain certainly heard the wake up call.


The most amazing photo of Mt. St Helens — click the link for a full screen wow.

Sunday was a good day for the Volcano to blow — because most people who worked on or around the mountain had the day off. As it was people did die when the hot ash and super heated water from the lake and glacier at the top of the mountain instantly melted and headed down the hill.

The massive ash plume went east and eastern Washington still has tons of ash here and there. Richland Washington went from sunny to night shortly after St. Helens blew her top. Actually the bulge was on the north west side of the mountain so that’s where the weak spot was. Every night leading to the eruption the local TV stations had volcano updates. Many of us became walking encyclopedias of volcano facts. The volcano guys were concerned and the politicians like Governor Ray were trying to keep the lumber companies happy by being “flexible” with the safe zones.  Governor Ray’s efforts to appease the lumber companies could have been even more tragic if the St Helens has popped her cork 24 hours later rather than on a Sunday morning.

News crews were up in helicopters recording the massive force of the volcano. Some of the best dramatic photographs of the event were recorded by a photographer who had a feeling that something big was going to happen.

As the booms from the mountain kept coming — I thought the blasts were either St. Helens because the vulcanologist from the news reports warned us that we would hear the sonic boom when she blew. I was not expecting a series of blasts. The sonic boom sounded like Navy jets. Anyway the husband runs outside and asked me what I was doing to cause all that noise. “Never mind”, I said, “that just some Navy pilots trying to wake everyone up.” Then I went inside and turned on the TV. It took awhile for the video feed to make it back to the TV stations — but some of the news feed showed the Rivers coming off of St. Helens as swirling monsters filled with logs and a few homes.

It was impressive to hear the mountain’s enormous power and then to watch the news feed from all over the state as the reports of ash fall hitting the eastern part of the state filtered into the news rooms. I guess I was an ear witness to a historical Natural event. Over the years I’ve witnessed other Volcanic eruptions from the drive up volcanoes in Hawaii to the pryoclastic volcano in the Caribbean. Ironically politicians play political games with the more dangerous pryoclastic volcanoes — or so it seems to this observer of Natural events and political games.



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