Wednesday, May 18, 2011

31 Years Later

Last year, for the 30th anniversary of the Mount St Helens eruption(s), I posted a series on the events of spring 1980. Partly reminiscence, partly drawn from accounts at the time, and largely based in the narrative line of "what was happening 30 years ago today," it was fun to compile.

I had moved from the Cleveland area (Mentor, to be specific; I'll have to show you the "house" I lived in sometime.) to Corvallis to start spring term at OSU, and the first rumblings came the first week I was here. It did sometimes feel as if the mountain was putting on the show to welcome me to the PNW.

For this year's anniversary, I don't have much new to add, so I've decided to simply index my posts from last year. Note that from mid-April to May 17, I emphasize that not much was happening- and that is exactly the point. The public, the media, and from what I've read, even most volcanologists were uncertain what, if anything, the mountain would do next. Was the show over? No one knew.
If I had to pick the two that do the most to explain the situation, I would recommend May 18, part III, and May 19. May 19 was, of course, when most of the print news became available, and the confusion surrounding St. Helens is a core memory for me. No one knew until months, even years, later, what exactly had happened. It's easy to look back now with hindsight and feel as if this was all understood. Let me be blunt: it was not.

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