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Old 05-15-2005, 10:24 AM   #1
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25 Years Ago - St Helens

It was 25 years ago in a couple of days (May 18), at 8:30am our time, our second largest mountain, St Helens, (about 90 miles south of Seattle and 65 miles north of Portland, Oregon) blew it's top. Rainier is our largest mountain and it too is an active volcano.. but not threatening YET...

I realize most of you weren't born then, or too young to remember, but some of you might.. I'll share a few facts some might recall reading/hearing about on the news... BTW: St Helens is simmering again.. has been for a few months.. they thought it would blow again but it calmed down. Experts say it will blow again, soon... but they don't' know when.

St Helens was about 9,700 feet tall and blew about 1,400 feet of material all over the state.. killing over 55 people, many of them "idiots" who ignored the warnings to get off the mountain. The most famous was an old coot named "Harry Truman"..think they made a "made-for-TV" movie about him.. I didn't see it, however.

What I recall that's interesting is.... first, nobody in Seattle heard the blast (which went off like a 20 megaton bomb they say). Had to do with lay of the land, etc. However, I had sailed north up to one of my most favorite places (Rosario Resort on Orcas Island... about 120 miles north of Seattle). Because of the draft of my sailboat, I then couldn't make it into the inner harbor without grounding, so I was anchored outside.

What I first found interesting was.. it was a really nice sunny morning and I'd come up on the deck and was drinking a cup of coffee.. when this REALLY loud "boom" went off and shook the entire area, including my boat. I thought someone set off some dynamite on the docks or at the resort. I grabbed the radio and called in.. asking what had happened. Another boat told me they heard on the radio that St Helens had blown up.. I said "that's ridiculous... St Helens is 250 miles south of us.. we couldn't hear it here!" Turned out, the sound waves came up the water and we not only could hear it,, it shook things up a bit... but Seattle, 150 miles closer couldn't feel or hear it.. I found that interesting anyway :).

The other interesting thing to me was... the volcano blew TONS of ash all over.. up 60,000 feet or more high...which was then circulated by the wind and dropped up to 5 or more inches in the Eastern part of the state... it also deposited several inches to the south, east, west, and north of Seattle.. but not ONE speck of ash dropped in Seattle! They explained that this was because of the "convergent zone" surrounding Seattle.. with all the water (lakes and Puget Sound...) somehow the winds skipped Seattle.

Well.. this is enough trivial stuff, sorry to bore everyone but it was quite a thing here in Washington state... both neat and sad to remember all that went on.

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Old 05-15-2005, 06:34 PM   #2
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I remember it, lutzzzz, I am in Eugene, OR. Now, according to a post in our local newspaper, 10 most dangerous volcanos to worry about, half are in the pacific northwest, Mt. St. Helens, Rainier, South Sisters, Hood, Crater Lake; three in Hawaii, one in Alaska, forgot the 10th. My volcanology major daughter says the next one will be any day now, meaning tomorrow or 30 years from now, they really have no way of telling.
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Old 05-15-2005, 08:08 PM   #3
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I remember norge

I remember you norge.. from last time I was here Not sure if you remember but I'm a UofO alumni

I went a couple of years to Lewis & Clark in Portland, then transferred down to Oregon where I graduated (then went three years to Stanford but I'm very much a DUCK FAN! I follow all the sports (signed up for that online service where I get the games on the 'puter even if they aren't televised out of Oregon).. watching Luke playing with our Sonics against SA right now (I lost track of the other Luke (Jackson).. think he was injured? Anyway...

Speaking of Lewis & Clark, that reminds me... the Lewis & Clark campus is on Palatine Hill in south/west Portland and is built on either the old Meyer or Frank (can't remember which..the department store people in Portland).. estate... and it's a beautiful campus.

From the main Admin building, they have a terraced lawn surrounded by rose gardens and a reflection pool. They built the reflection pool, etc. so MT. St Helens would be reflected in the pool. We used to jokingly refer to St Helens as the "Ice Cream Cone" mountain 'cause it was almost perfectly round and resembled a scoop of ice cream (or so we thought anyway).

I was thinking, it must now just look like the cone without the ice cream.. sad.

Yes, IF/when Rainier blows, it's going to be a real mess here. I have a friend who climbs MT. Rainier now and then as he trains to climb MT McKinley.. anyway, he tells me that at the very top of Rainier (14,500 feet or so high) there are some steam caves where it's 80 degrees or so inside... no doubt it's an active volcano..and just sitting there waiting for it's "time"...

One last thing you might get a kick out of.. being a "Duck" up here in Seattle, with all the UofW "Huskies", isn't an easy thing.. I recall years ago when I first moved here, I was attending a UW-UO football game, had great seats in the Huskie section..however I made a mistake and stood up when they played the Oregon Alma Matter... some jerk sitting behind me tossed a beer can and hit me in the back That was the LAST time I stood up in the Huskie section like that! They don't like "Ducks" up here.. almost as bad a rivalry as with Oregon State...
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Old 05-15-2005, 09:51 PM   #4
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We visited Mt St. Helen's 15 years after it erupted and the area around it was still devistated. Trees laying around on the ground like toothpicks and creeks dammed with trees. But every once in a while you would see green coming through so you knew there was still life there.
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Old 05-15-2005, 10:47 PM   #5
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i remember it happening but vaguely.
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Old 05-16-2005, 01:37 AM   #6
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Spirit Lake at the foot of Mt. St. Helens was our special summer place. Our family went to Camp of the Holy Spirit every summer there (Episcopal camp) and the memories are wonderful. I have to say, there could not be a more beautiful, pristine place in the world than the lake and the mountain before the eruption, and we all cried when the St. Helens blew and destroyed the forest, the lodge and the lake and all of the wonderful places there...Still makes me cloud up thinking about it.
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Old 05-16-2005, 02:24 AM   #7
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when i was in 2nd grade, we read a story called 'when mt. st. helens blew her top.' it's funny how you remember stuff like that.
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Old 05-16-2005, 08:08 AM   #8
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My aunt lives in Spokane. I remember it only because of the ash that she brought down when she visited and her stories of it, still. That was a really cool show and tell when I was in 5th grade, except that the teachers wouldn't believe that it was actual ash from it, my mom had to go to the school and tell them that I hadn't gotten ash from a fire and lied to them to get attention, very insulting. And my kids were able to use some it to show when they were studying about volcanoes. The school kept the small bag for future showing.
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Old 05-16-2005, 10:03 AM   #9
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It surely did cause destruction, texasgirl... but it's no wonder.. One of our newspapers pointed out that the "hiccup" St Helens had (that's a scientific geological term perhaps 'cause the St Helens blow, on a historical/world wide scale, was relatively small... Crater Lake in Oregon, for example not only blew a St Helens size mountain all over the Western states, but created one of the deepest lakes in the world)... was about the same explosive power as one of the bombs we dropped on the Japanese during WWII.. 20 mega tons or so...

Plus, the blast travelled down valleys with an "echo" effect and leveled everything.... then add the mud flow and subsequent flooding of a couple of rivers, etc.. it was a mess. The Internet has a lot of pictures... google "MT St Helens" if anyone is interested.

I've not been there, but they say all of the area is growing back... wildlife is flourishing... will take awhile but that's how nature works I guess... and there's nothing we can do about it except get out of the way
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Old 05-18-2005, 10:38 AM   #10
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Well. as suspected, our local TV stations are running special coverage, on-and-off, of the remembrance (25 years) of our volcano MT St Helens blow. Nationally it isn't a "big deal".. it only killed 57 people here.. a drop-in-the-bucket compared to the Oklahoma bombing and surely small compared to the 9/11 disaster...

It's touching though.. there were many survivors, and they, and 100's of others, gathered on the mountain last night (in a rain/wind storm that was blowing some of their tents down) to hold the remembrance today. And St Helens evidently was celebrating too, 'cause it blew a moderate size puff of ash a few 1000 feet up into the air this morning... obviously to say "I'm sorry".

A few stories are coming out that are kinda interesting though.. I missed most of them 'cause I was sailing back from the San Juan Islands to be sure my cat was okay :)

Just one example... The eruption virtually shut the state down (airports, etc.) for about a week.. partly 'cause nobody knew if the blow was a "warm up" for another one soon.. and mostly 'cause of the ash... most of which blew east of us... and was falling all around.

For example, they say 600 tons of ash fell on Yakima (a relatively small apple growing community north-east of the volcano) alone.. it was bulldozed up into several football field sized lots, and stacked 7 feet high... later it was used as a landfill for a park and recreational facility...

Anyway, if anyone wants to waste some time today, there's a live webcam here: http://www.fs.fed.us/gpnf/volcanocams/msh/ but you won't see much 'cause there's a storm going on now.. obviously blowing rain on the lens :)... but later it will clear up (they say)....
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