Monday, September 27, 2004

Uh-Oh, Here We Go Again!

Thanks for the Memory to Rusty at MyPetJawa (Actually, I'd already heard about it, but tracking back to Rusty gets me gobs of traffic!).

US volcano that wreaked havoc 24 years ago rumbles to back life

LOS ANGELES (AFP) Sep 27, 2004
Mount St. Helens, a volcano that devastated swathes of the US northwest when it erupted 24 years ago, has rumbled back to life, raising fears of a fresh explosion, seismologists said Monday.
Experts believe that a sudden and potentially dangerous event could be on the way after a wave of nearly 100 small earthquakes began hitting the area in the states of Washington and Oregon in recent days.

"We have had small swarm of earthquakes that begun last Thursday and are worried that a small explosion may occur without warning," said Peter Frenzen, a scientist from Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument.

"The earthquake activity is occurring below the dome -- all this could increase the likelihood of small rock slides from the lava dome," he said, adding that the mountain had not been hit by waves of quakes since 2001.

Trails up the mountain were closed to climbers and hikers after quakes measuring between two and to 2.8 on the Richter Scale shook the area amid fears of mud and rock slides over an eight kilometer (five mile) area around the peak.

The area north of the peak was hard hit in the 1980 eruption of Mount St Helens that left 57 people dead, devastating hundreds of square kilometers (miles) and spewing ash over much of the Pacific Northwest region.

The mountain's top lies around 88 kilometers (55 miles) northeast of the Oregon's main city of Portland, which was also covered in a thick layer of ash in the 1980 eruption.

I remember. Here in the Pacific Northwest, unless you're talking to someone VERY young, all you have to do is say May 18th, and people know what you mean. Before she blew, St. Helens was called "The Fuji of America" because she was so perfectly symmetrical. The initial eruption pulverized a cubic MILE I was living just to the east of Washington in Idaho, and we got a light dusting. My church's camp is in Camas WA, less than 50 miles from MSH, but away from the direction of the blast. The ash there was a couple of inches think. The stuff was incredibly fine and got into EVERYTHING. It was abrasive and destroyed engines and paint jobs. Interestingly enough, if heated hot enough, it makes a beautiful glass that can be blown in artwork. It turned the skies black at noon. It was a weird time, kind of exciting as a kid, especially since I was a bit removed from it, but scary at the same time.

As I told Rusty, Washington's Mt. Rainier and The Three Sisters here in Oregon have both been showing signs of awaking. If The Sisters go, I'll have an incredibly good view, but a fairly safe one. It's the people in Central Oregon who will be screwed. That's cattle country, the cost of evacuating livestock will be phenomenal. We don't put up with tornadoes, or hurricanes (well, not true. Storms on the PNW coast are routinely of Hurricane force, and the Columbus Day Storm was the hardest blow to ever hit the US in terms of wind speed. But there's hardly anyone there to notice it), or as many bizzards as the midwest or earthquakes as California, but when we finally do have a disaster, we do it with flair.

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