Living Green Olympia: Where Were You When the Mountain Blew?

Where Were You When the Mountain Blew?

That's the question of the day in Washington since today is the 30th anniversary of the day that Mt St Helens erupted!  Since I grew up in the midwest, living in a state with volcanoes was a strange concept to me - except that they really just looked like ordinary mountains.  Then when Mt. St Helens began to show signs of volcanic activity I realized this is a little bit different than just having big mountains around.  Although the actual eruption defied the predictions of even the scientists who had been studying it - and certainly caught many people off guard, some with fatal outcomes.

The day of the eruption, my husband & I were in Leavenworth (across the Cascades from our home in Olympia).  While he played golf, I had been relaxing in the city park, enjoying the sunshine and reading a book.  When the sky began to darken, I remember being kind of ticked off that a thunderstorm seemed to be on the way - never imagining that the darkening was the result of a volcanic eruption not a rainstorm!

As word began to spread that Mt St Helens had in fact blown its top, confusion and a little bit of anxiety set in.  Could we drive back home?  Would the clouds of ash reach us in Eastern Washington?  Would the ash damage our car?  Was there actually LAVA flowing out of the volcano?? 

Long story short, we did drive safely home, but the impact of the ash reached clear across the state.  The photos of the mountain itself were amazing - huge forests of trees blown down like the proverbial match sticks.  The Toutle River was clogged with fallen trees for quite a long time; ash was piled up like small hills as it was cleared from roadways; the heart-tugging stories of people caught in the eruption's blast - this volcano thing became oh so very real!

Mt St Helen's does again have life of both plant and animal variety, but nature's recovery period was long.  And the memories remain of that scary moment of wondering how this eruption would impact lives in our state.




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Comment balloon 2 commentsNancy Conner • May 18 2010 06:48PM


I moved to Seattle from the midwest not long after the big blow and have explored Mt St Helens many times. It is truely a fascinating place. Scary weird in the early years but coming to life little by little.

Posted by Glenn Roberts (Retired) over 10 years ago

Hi Glenn! Where in the midwest did you move from?  I grew up in the northern Illinois area (Joliet/Plainfield).  And yes, Mt St Helens is really fascinating as it slowly recovers from that devastating eruption.

Posted by Nancy Conner, Olympia/Thurston County WA over 10 years ago