Remembering Mt. St. Helens

Mount St. Helens before it erupted
Mount St. Helens after it erupted

Today is the 25th anniversary of the eruption of Mount St. Helens. How many of you reading are old enough to remember that day? Or were even born yet?

I was in first grade, attending Alfalfa School. The main thing I remember from that time was the ash—it didn’t drift quite as far south as us, but it did make it to Redmond. My teacher was from Redmond (Alfalfa was—and still is—in the Redmond school district), and her car had a fine layer of ash all over it. That doesn’t seem like much—the cities and towns closer to the eruption had day turn into night from all the ash, so much that it looked like deep snowdrifts and blizzard conditions, people had to wear masks and cars actually stalled out and had their engines ruined from intaking the stuff—but to a seven-year-old even that light dusting really drove home the reality of having a live, active volcano in the relative neighborhood.

And in the days and weeks that followed, the news would show that time-lapse footage of the entire north face of St. Helens exploding and disappearing, followed by the unimaginable image of acre after acre of mud and felled trees and grey wasteland. Even to this day it’s mind-boggling at just how violent that event was.

Jack over at The Grumpy Forester has an amazing recollection of the eruption, and Wikipedia, as usual, has a terrific article on it.

South Sister Quakes

Sweeping the local news this evening is the South Sister earthquakes: more than 100 shook the area three miles west of the South Sister today, with a magnitude of up to 1.5 on the Richter scale. has the best writeup on the story I’ve seen online.

The quakes were occurring in the northeast part of an area centered three miles west of South Sister, in which the ground has undergone what scientists call “crustal uplift” (but others have called “the bulge”) by as much as 25 centimeters (about 10 inches) since late 1997….

The magma appears to be accumulating at a depth about four miles below the ground surface, and measures about 50 million cubic yards in volume.

Interesting stuff; of course the entire Cascade Range is geologically active, so it’s not really a surprise, but with the South Sister about, oh, 30 miles away, this news has more than a few people worried, I’m sure.

Personally, I’d expect Mount Hood to be the one to erupt first, of all of them.