Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Geography/History #19


Selena watched an interesting episode of Dinosaur Train where they were studying an active volcano and watched as it erupted. This episode came at a great time as yesterday was the 30th anniversary of the eruption of Mt Saint Helens. We shared some pictures of Papa’s since he lived at the base of Mt Saint Helens when she erupted, and also some pictures that were taken 5 years ago when Papa and I visited up there.

I wanted to watch a documentary we have of Mt Saint Helens, but feared it would be too long and too intense for Selena. I found this small clip that is on our documentary on Google Videos, so we watched this and a couple others instead.

Some facts, this eruption could have been a lot more devastating then it was, if it wouldn’t have been for the eruption happening on a Sunday morning. If she would have waited one more day, there would have been a lot more lives lost, as the loggers would have entered the mountain to begin their daily work of logging. Instead of the 57 lives that were lost that day, there could have been hundreds of lives lost. Mt Saint Helen’s throughout history when she has blown has always blown bilateral instead of strait up like most volcanoes. Spirit Lake known for it’s beauty and recreation no longer exists. A long time resident of Spirit Lake, refused to leave his home and was never found. As he said, “My wife died up here on this mountain, this is my home, and I guess if she chooses to take me, then so be it.” He laughed and dismissed the warnings, not believing that Mt Saint Helen’s would ever erupt. A geologist who went up to camp in an attempt to film the eruption was never found, but his camera was. His last words were over a radio, “Vancouver, this is it.” Yes, they did retrieve some footage from his camera.

I lived in Spokane, on the East side of the State at the time this event took place. We received a foot of ash dumped on Spokane, closing down the entire town. At about 11:00 my brother from Kennewick called and asked if it was dark at our home yet? My mom thought he was nuts, he then went on to explain that the mountain had erupted. We ran to the window and could literally watch the ash cloud coming towards us. By noon the street lights came on, and it was as dark as night and appeared to be snowing. It wasn’t snow it was the gray particles of ash. To clean this ash up was a job. Add water it turned to cement, to sweep, it was so fine and light it just landed back where you swept it from.

From Papa’s point of view, he could hear, feel and see the eruption. The black cloud over the mountain was massive, as you can see in the video, and he could witness the lightning strikes inside the clouds from her force. They had tremors throughout the day. What was to come next, was the massive mud flow, that wiped out everything in it’s path. Papa watched as houses, cabins, animals, and trees, were swept right past him nearly knocking out an entire bridge as it moved underneath it. Some bridges did get wiped out from the massive earth slide. They had to dredge the Columbia river after this massive slide, to clear all the debris out to allow flow of the Cowlitz River.

Mount Saint Helens is still our most dangerous mountain, as she is still considered a young volcano. She continues to rebuild her dome inside the crater, but the intensity of this rebuilding has slowed. Wild life is now returning. She is definitely rebuilding her beauty on her own with no man’s interference.  The question left unanswered is “Will she blow again?” Many scientists and geologists say, “It’s not will she blow again, but when will she blow again?”

Five years ago when we were up there, she was steaming and I guess you could say burped. We could hear the tremor and yes we felt it under our feet. It was rather unsettling, and made everyone jump, but thanks to my husband’s quick wit and fast thinking he told the tourists it was just thunder, so that they did not all go running to their cars and create a huge traffic jam. Believe me, many looked as though they were taking their last breath. They were ready to run! We stood there and watched the steam rise from her crater, one of the tourists commented, “What a beautiful cloud!” She did have a small eruption this same year that was seen for miles, as far away as Seattle.

Last night when Papa called it was cute to hear Selena tell him what she learned about Volcanoes and Mt Saint Helens. She went to our white board, and though Papa couldn’t see the mountains She said, “Look here is 2 mountains. All the stuff moves up and up and up until it blows up into the clouds. And Papa, this one is Mt Saint Helens! Why? because it blew out the side!” If I would have only known she was going to do that I would have had camera ready, so these were after the phone conversation.

100_2822 I know my pictures are just lovely aren’t they!


Selena pointing out the one that would represent Mt Saint Helens!

I guess she took in more then I expected. I then remembered that I had something made out of the volcanic ash.

100_2826 100_2828 She was being careful not to break it, that is why she is on the floor!

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  1. How very fascinating to have some personal history related to Mt St Helens. I was just listening yesterday on NPR about the anniversary and couldn't believe that it was so recent. I am sure your personal accounts made this geography lesson a lot more interesting for Selena.

  2. Okay, I'll comment more when Batman lets me actually read the post and not just watch the video over and over again.

  3. Very nice summery of the events - I can't believe it's been 30 years!

  4. You were right, I do love this post. There's so much in this to love. A bit of your personal history, a fun story from Selena, and a cool video. GREAT POST! I'm sure we'll reference this again.