Thirty five years ago, Mount St. Helens erupted in the state of Washington, spewing ash, rock and hot gases into the air and causing mud to flow down the mountain sides. The eruption took place on May 18, 1980, at 8:32 a.m. PDT and was the deadliest and most economically destructive volcanic event in the history of the United States.
Within minutes of a 5.1 earthquake that hit at 8:32 a.m. on May 18, 1980, the volcano’s north flank collapsed, triggering the largest landslide in recorded history. That set off powerful explosions that sent ash, steam, rocks and volcanic gas upward and outward. The lateral blast scorched and flattened about 230 square miles of dense forest.
Soon after, a plume of volcanic ash rose over 80,000 feet and rained down as far as 250 miles away in Spokane. Pushed by winds over the next few days, the ash cloud traveled east across the U.S. and encircled the globe in 15 days.
The eruption blew about 1,314 feet off the volcano and created a horseshoe-shaped crater in the mountain, which now stands at 8,363 feet.
Here are some of the statistics:
- 57 people died
- Two month warning
- 900,000 tons of ash on roads and highways
- 230 square miles of damage
- 7,000 big animals lost such as deer, elk and bear. Birds and small mammals also died.
- 110,000 set aside as the National Volcanic Momument