Mount St. Helens Eruption – 36 Years Ago Today
On this day, 36 years ago, Mount St. Helens violently erupted sending volcanic ash nearly 80,000 feet into the air and depositing volcanic ash into 11 states.
On a VEI (Velocity Explosion Index) scale of 1-8, Mount St Helens eruption was rated a 5 giving it a description of paroxysmic (meaning very violent, colossal). This eruption was and is still the only significant volcanic eruption to occur in the contiguous 48 US states since the Lassen Peak in California in the year 1915.
The eruption dropped the volcano’s elevation by 1,300 feet, completing blowing off the top of the volcano. This left Mount St Helens with a giant crater than can still be viewed today. You can see a recent picture here taken days ago from the International Space Station as it flew over.
This catastrophic event unfortunately led to 57 fatalities and destroyed more than 200 homes.
The eruption killed more thousands of trees and vegetation, reduced hundreds of square miles to wasteland and killed hundreds and hundreds of wildlife.
Mount St Helens, at the time of the eruption, was owned by the Burlington Northern Railroad;however, after the event the land was passed on to the United States Forest Service.
Will it ever erupt again?
Scientists say that Mount St Helens is very likely to erupt again. In our lifetime though? Depends on how old you are. It is possible in our lifetime but average eruption recurrence is every 100-300 years
(Headline image: Mount St Helens Institute)