The Eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980

On May 18, 1980, an earthquake struck below the north face of Mount St. Helens in Washington state, triggering the largest landslide in recorded history and a major volcanic eruption that scattered ash across a dozen states. The sudden lateral blast—heard hundreds of miles away—removed 1,300 feet off the top of the volcano, sending shock waves and pyroclastic flows across the surrounding landscape, flattening forests, melting snow and ice, and generating massive mudflows. A total of 57 people lost their lives in the disaster. This anniversary always hits home for me, as I was a 12-year-old living in Spokane at the time. I have such vivid memories of the approaching ash cloud, the bizarre dark skies at daytime, the uncertain fears of inhaling the ash, deserted streets, and closed schools.

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