May 2004


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Blast from the past – literally

Excerpted from the Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument webpage:

At 8:32 Sunday morning, May 18, 1980, Mount St. Helens erupted.

Shaken by an earthquake measuring 5.1 on the Richter scale, the north face of this tall symmetrical mountain collapsed in a massive rock debris avalanche. Nearly 230 square miles of forest was blown over or left dead and standing. At the same time a mushroom-shaped column of ash rose thousands of feet skyward and drifted downwind, turning day into night as dark, gray ash fell over eastern Washington and beyond. The eruption lasted 9 hours, but Mount St. Helens and the surrounding landscape were dramatically changed within moments.

Yep, that was 24 years ago today, and I remember it pretty well. I was living in Grants Pass at the time, still in gradeschool. We of course watched the news about it, and were fascinated by nature’s fury, but it became more real the next morning when we discovered nearly an inch of ash had fallen overnight, turning the city into a grim parody of a winter wonderland.

Put a whole new perspective on learning about Pompeii, lemme tellya.

This was not the first natural disaster I had near-personal experience with. Just a couple years prior to St. Helen’s eruption, my family had to be evacuated from our home in rural Oregon due to forest fire. I still get twitchy whenever I see the sky turn a particular shade of red.

I guess they call it the Ring of Fire for a reason, eh?

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