Mt. Saint Helens (1980)

I was thinking May 18th? Why is May 18th important. Then I remembered. Mt. St Helens is about 80 miles from here. In volcano terms that’s in your back yard. And 33 years ago my volcano went off. It covered my house in 6 inches of volcanic ash. It was dark at noon. You had to wear a mask to go outside. You had to wrap your car air cleaner with layer of ladies nylons to keep the volcanic ash from grinding the inside of your motor out. It destroyed every living thing for 15 miles with 57 people. The explosion came in at just a shade under 24 megatons. If there was a nuclear war, it would look something like my neighborhood did. It blew a mile off the top of the mountain. Pictures can’t do this justice, but we’ll show some USGS footage anyway.

I shook the hand of Mr. Harry Truman, a cantankerous old buzzard of the best kind. Sold me a fishing license. That must have been some time in 1978. He wasn’t gonna leave his mountain. Luckily, I doubt he knew what hit him. Spirit Lake lodge was hit with a pyroclastic flow. That’s 1000F heated gas going 450 miles an hour. Where the lake store used to stand is covered in 150 feet of volcanic debris. God’s speed Mr. Truman. His wife had passed on. His kids were raised and I don’t think he felt like he was in a hurry to go anywhere.

Here’s a recent PBS special on St. Helens

And a good picture.

Readers Comments (2)

  1. Great tribute Dude!
    Here is mine (For Dead Heads and All)
    That night, that very night that Mt. Saint Helens blew I was at a Grateful Dead concert in, I believe, Portland, Oregon. I was 20 years old in 1980. AS we left the concert, as it has ended, we expected there to be some daylight left. There was no daylight, it was dark and black as midnight. I checked my watch.
    Then we saw the ash that fell from everywhere, not just the sky, and it was like a hardened grey-white snow. This ash material, it did not melt, it only accumulated, on our hair, our skin, and it covered every single thing. As we came up to my VW Van we somehow were able to get the “Damn Van” started (the name of my “67 VW bus was “Damn Van”),and drive. We had to drive back to Eugene, Oregon.
    I will never forget those blackened ashen roads and highways and touchable sky of thick material we blindly drove down the coast with.
    As we talked about the set-list the Dead had done that night we realized that they had played “Fire On The Mountain” JUST as that mountain had blown. Nobody at the concert had ever made any announcement about the volcanic explosion, and the Dead just kept on playing as they led into one song directly into another. Because of this we never could be very sure if they knew they had synchronized “Fire On The Mountain” directly with that historic, fiery blast of St. Helens Mountain in Washington.

    • I remember my mom in the aftermath of that. She was cleaning the road with a fire hose. You really wanted to take it easy driving because it would kick up all the ash. So these two yahoo’s come through with a pick up truck driving 50. Mom nearly crashed em’ with the fire hose. She was just that kind of a gal.

      The dead huh. I saw Jerry a couple times at Autzen. I cried when Jerry died. Didn’t make it that time. Did actually see the mountain while it was blowing up. You could see Mt. Saint Helens losing it from top of any hill. It took a couple hours for the fallout to hit. It still see the stuff in the dirt when I’m gardening.

      30 some years later, my drug of choice is Advil and I listen to jazz. If my hair was long, I’d look like the ancient Mariner.

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