Mt. St. Helen’s was known as one of the most picturesque stratovolcanoes in the Cascade Range before its violent eruption on May 18, 1980. The 1980 eruption of Mt. St. Helens is the most studied volcanic eruption of the twentieth century.
The volcano, located in southwestern Washington, used to be a beautiful symmetrical cone that was 3,000 meters above sea level. The eruption caused the removal of the upper 396 meters of the summit. This caused a horseshoe-shaped crater be created while leaving a barren wasteland. Today the land is healing andhas recovered its natural beauty, but the landscape has been permanently altered.
In terms of economic impact, the Mount St. Helens eruption was the most destructive in U.S. history. Fifty-seven people are known to have died. More than 200 homes were destroyed. More than 185 miles of roads and 15 miles of railways were damaged. Ash caused many problems as it clogged sewage systems, damaged cars and buildings, and temporarily shut down air traffic over the Northwest.
Mt. St. Helens was declared a National Volcanic Monument by an act of congress in 1982.
Today, Mount St. Helens is a popular climbing destination for beginning and experienced mountaineers. The peak is climbed year-round, with the post popular climbing time being in late spring through early fall. To climb, you must have a permit if you will be climbing above 4,800 feet on the slopes.
Not having seen Mount St.Helens since back in our high school days, we found it interesting to visit again and were surprised how little we remembered of it. The Johnston Ridge Observatory is named after the volcanologist David Johnston, who was camped out on this ridge observing the volcano when it blew. The site has a stunning view outside, as well as great exhibits indoors. It is open May through October,weather dependant upon snow.
Today, Mount St. Helens and other volcanoes in the Pacific Northwest are closely monitored by geologists at the David A. Johnston Cascades Volcano Observatory in Vancouver.
Take a look at what Mount St. Helens looks like today:
Have you ever visited Mount St.Helens? What did you think?