Source: Mount St. Helens

It’s 37 years…which is absolutely shocking. I mean, logically, it’s been that long. I wasn’t even born when it blew on 18 May 1980. But here in Washington, especially Western Washington, you don’t need to have been born yet to really feel this. But it’s funny in a grim way–because this is so indelibly ingrained in Washington consciousness.

I remember growing up with lahar drills, with classes on what we should all do, should a volcano (in Tacoma we were more worried about Rainier) erupt and cause mudslides, earthquakes or lahar damage. What we should do if St. Helens or Rainier blew and caused the ashes to rain down. I spent my college years living on a Volcano Evacuation Route–always aware of the fastest way to get up into the “hills” as it were to avoid the mud slides and lahars that would sweep through town within 30 minutes of Mt. Rainier erupting.

Mount St. Helens erupting was amazing, awe-inspiring and terrifying. My family in Spokane had ash come down on their house! My family in the Seattle area were watching everything unfold around it all. Everyone I know who was alive then can tell you what they remember of that day, of what they saw.

It’s amazing how this one eruption reshaped the study of volcanoes in the Cascades and has provided an amazing wealth of knowledge. The total devastation that this caused is beyond the real scale of understanding; over a billion USD in damages. It’s the most destructive volcanic eruption in US history.

To this day, it’s huge in our state history.