FILE - In this May 18, 1980, file photo, Mount St. Helens sends a plume of ash, smoke and debris skyward as it erupts. May 18, 2020, is the 40th anniversary of the eruption that killed more than 50 people and blasted more than 1,300 feet off the mountain’s peak. (AP Photo/Jack Smith, File)

Virus interrupts St. Helens eruption anniversary plans

Several agencies are presenting talks and experiences online in lieu of in-person events

The coronavirus outbreak disrupted what had been big plans to mark the 40th anniversary of the eruption of Mount St. Helens in Washington state.

The peak in the Cascade Mountain Range blew its top on May 18, 1980, killing 57 people, blasting more than 1,300 feet (396 metres) off the top of the mountain and raining volcanic ash around for hundreds of miles.

But there will be no public observances at the volcano on Monday. Oregon Public Broadcasting reports the main highway into the national volcanic monument is closed due to COVID-19 and the multiple visitor centres and museums that had planned remembrances are also shuttered.

“We’ve been thrown for quite a loop here,” said Washington State Parks interpretive specialist Alysa Adams. “Please stay tuned for next year because I think we’re going to take all of this energy and passion and turn it into something productive for the 41st anniversary.”

Several agencies are presenting talks and experiences online.

The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, Pacific Northwest Seismic Network and Washington State Parks scheduled separate 40th-anniversary live stream presentations Monday night.

The eruption produced huge, black and grey clouds of ash that rose more than 80,000 (24,384 metres) feet and eventually poured tiny granules of debris in cities and towns throughout the Northwest. The peak, which had experienced many smaller eruptions on the weeks preceding the big event. Within minutes of a 5.1 earthquake that hit at 8:32 a.m. on May 18, 1980, the volcano’s north flank collapsed, triggering the largest landslide in recorded history. The explosion scorched and flattened about 230 square miles (450 square kilometres) of dense forest.

And Mount St. Helens may not be done yet. In September 2000 the volcano rumbled back to life with a swarm of tiny, shallow quakes. The first of a series of small explosions on Oct. 1 shot volcanic ash and gases into the air. A lava dome began to rise in the volcano’s crater, building slowly over three years during the eruption period that lasted from 2004 to 2008.

ALSO READ: Canadians’ worries shift from healthcare to social isolation as time goes on

The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

CoronavirusState of WashingtonVolcano

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

West Kelowna emergency crews rescue injured mountain biker

The woman fell from her bike on a Smith Creek trail

Hundreds of people gather at Black Lives Matter rally in Kelowna

Almost 600 people are rallying in Stuart Park, downtown Kelowna

Aberdeen Hall Preparatory School launches part-time on-campus learning

The school has taken appropriate precautions for a safe return for staff and students

Number of unemployed people tops 10,000 in Kelowna

Kelowna census metropolitan area lost roughly 1,300 jobs between April and May

Second video of Kelowna RCMP arrest shows Mountie punching suspect at least 10 times

The officer involved in the incident has been reassigned to administrative duties

No charges to be laid against 22 northern B.C. pipeline protesters

22 people arrested in February were charged with contempt

Youth advocacy group pulls out of Vernon Black Lives Matter protest

Earth Strike Vernon pulled its support after concerns raised about Kelowna, Vernon protests

‘I just felt I had to do something’: Vernon Black Lives Matter protest organizer

Young woman organizes peaceful protest to take place next week at Vernon courthouse

Woman injured as purse snatched downtown Vernon

Two young men were arrested following detailed statements from witnesses

First day back; attending elementary school amid COVID-19

“… Social connections are certainly important for kids,” said Penticton principal Dave Ritchie.

Okanagan’s Grand Chief Stewart Phillip appeals for living-donor kidney transplant

Okanagan Nation Alliance Grand Chief has chronic kidney disease

New video evidence in Surrey man’s West Kelowna murder trial shown in court

The defence closed its case following the playing of the video in court, marking the end of the evidentiary phase of the trial

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

Most Read