11 Things You Need to Know About Mount St. Helens
You never forget your first apocalypse. That's what the eruption of Mount St. Helens felt like to this author, who was a young boy at the time. Kids aren't interested in news, so when I was playing volleyball with my family on the sunny afternoon of May 18th, 1980, and the sky started to go black, I had no idea what was happening, and it scared me.
For those of you who weren't there, or may have forgotten, here are 11 things you should know about Mount St. Helens.
Where is Mount St. Helens?
Mount St. Helens is located about 98 miles from Seattle, and 52 miles from Portland, in Skamania County.
Who Was Mount St. Helens Named After?
Who Named Mount St. Helens?
Captain George Vancouver of the British Royal Navy named Mount St. Helens after Fitzherbert.
How Old is Mount St. Helens?
Who knows? It's pretty old. But it began erupting 40,000 years ago.
When Did Mount St. Helens Become an Active Volcano?
Scientists and geologists were predicting it would become active sometime in the mid to late 1970s, and their educated guesses were proven correct on March 16th,1980, when the mountain began steaming and trembling with tiny earthquakes.
When Did Mount St. Helens First Erupt?
May 18th, 1980, is a day that is etched in the memory of people in the Pacific Northwest, who lived through the event. It was like nothing we had ever seen.
What Was It Like When Mount St. Helens Erupted?
The top of the Mountain was blown to bits, letting steam release, and causing volcanic ash to travel hundreds of miles, darkening the sky. There were landslides, and it was deadly for those who couldn't, and some that wouldn't, get out of the area when scientists warned of the impending event.
Wildlife also perished, as forests were wiped out, and bodies of water were filled with sediment.
The eruption was both an inconveniences for travelers, as flights were grounded, and an economic hardship for Northwest farmers, whose crops were destroyed (no famous Washington Apples).
Afterwards, suburban neighborhoods, wheat fields, everything above ground was covered in ash. We were told to stay inside as much as possible, and wear a mask if we had to go outside. Homeowners were literally shoveling ash like snow, to get it off the roads, and out of their driveways.
Entrepreneurs capitalized on Mount St. Helens eruption by selling t-shirts ("I Survived Mt. St. Helens and All I Got was This Lousy T-Shirt"), bumper stickers ("Mt. St. Helens is a Pain in the Ash"), and mason jars filled with ash for tourists to take home as a souvenir of their visit.
Has Mount St. Helens Ever Erupted Again?
Mount St. Helens erupted again in 2004, and 2008. This activity was nothing like the initial eruption on May 18th, 1980.
Is Mount St. Helens Still an Active Volcano?
It is. But who knows if, or when, Mount St. Helens will put on a show like the one on May 18th, 1980. We'll have to wait and see.
Can I Visit Mount St. Helens?
There is a visitor center with displays, including a large "volcano" you can go inside of, activities and a great view, where you can learn more about the impact and legacy of Mount St. Helens.
What Does Mount St. Helens Look Like Today?
There is still evidence that Mount St. Helens erupted on May 18th, 1980. But how does she look to you?
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