Stop at any roadside cafe on the way up to Mount Saint Helens and you might hear a server or a local resident tell a tourist, "We're so glad it happened on a Sunday morning."
Sounds odd, but it meant loggers and other workers were home instead of on the job in the forests surrounding Mount Saint Helens when it erupted at 8:32 a.m. on May 18, 1980. Some locals are convinced the timing probably saved hundreds of lives, even though 57 people died.
The force of the blast destroyed 230 square miles of forest. Rock, ash and steam rose to 80,000 feet spreading across 11 states and five Canadian provinces. Below, molten steam and magma melted glacers and sent slides rushing down the sides of the mountain. Some of these 'lahars' reached as far as the Columbia River 50 miles away.
Today, the mountain is a peaceful but the landscape remains a testament to the power of the eruption which released 24 megatons of thermal energy.
We received these photos from our Facebook friend, Carmen R. Andrews in 2010 and they remain some of our favorites.
Carmen describes the scene, 'When I was 14-years-old my classmates from Garfield High School and I went on a biology field trip to see the diatomaceous earth outside of Vantage, Washington. We actually heard the eruption as we were packing up to go home but it wasn't loud enough to really register as something big at the time and it was only later that we realized that we actually heard it when the volcano erupted."
If you have photos of the eruption aftermath, upload them on our Share It page or email to email@example.com.
When the first earthquakes occurred on Mt. St Helens on March 16, 1980, I was working as a
meteorologist for the US Forest Service at the Northwest Avalanche Center. Those earthquakes also triggered widespread large avalanche on the mountain in the late winter snowpack. Fortunately, no one was hurt by the slides even though the area was popular with cross country skiers.
Rich's photos from 1980
From the first puff of steam in late March of 1980, I spent more time at or near Mount St. Helens than in Seattle until it's cataclysmic eruption on May 18. Our 'accommodations' varied from campers to tents-the stays ranging in length from a few days to as much as two weeks at a time.
As the KING science report
During our occasional returns to Seattle, I stocked up on Geology and Volcanology texts to aid me in deciphering and explaining Mount St. Helens' stirrings in our nightly broadcasts from our ridge top locations overlooking the volcano. Keep in mind there was no generally available internet in 1980, and certainly no WiFi! When we could connect with visiting scientists, we eagerly grabbed those opportunities to gain more perspective and information that we could share with our viewers.er, I was teamed with photographer Mark Anderson and engineer Mike Carter. We moved progressively closer to the volcano as the activity level increased from mild steam or 'phreatic' eruptions to earthquakes and showers of pumice which pelted our tent.
Tell us about your Mount St. Helens experiences. Just log in to our Facebook page to upload photos and tell your stories.
Debbie Oster Saling
3rd grade, Spokane. My brother was babysitting me. Thought a nasty storm was coming in. Little did we know.
My dad, Col. Bruce Jorgenson was in charge of the rescue operation when it blew..
Spending the night at a friend's house, just up the street. She and I raced down the hill from her house, burst into my house, and told my Mom excitedly about it, as only two young teenage girls can.....my Mom didn't believe us! ~lol~ Totally thought we were teasing. I had a horse, and remember the bales of alfalfa from Eastern Washington that were filled with ash. They were so heavy to move, and the price of hay skyrocketed that year. Another bit of trivia. The National Geographic magazine that came out and featured the Mt. Saint Helen's eruption became THE most stolen magazine from people's mailboxes, EVER.
I was 10 years old and early that morning I was with my family hiking up mount Si. The ash had ruined the visibility. I am from Kirkland but currently live in Eastern Kentucky. I too have a jar of ash sitting on my desk at work. One of my coworkers actually asked me if the jar held my mother's ashes.
Jeff Woiton Ntp
I was in the Navy and stationed in Bremerton when this happened. We were ~125 miles to the north, so we didn't get any ash until about two weeks later after it had gone around the globe. Sure saw the plume, though.