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)

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

A person experiencing homelessness in downtown Nanaimo last week. (News Bulletin photo)
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Change approach to combatting homelessness

Letter writers express frustration with status quo

Environment Canada is forecasting snow for the east Vancouver Island region the weekend of Jan. 23. (Black Press file)
Up to 15 cm of snow forecast for Nanaimo area this weekend

Snow to begin Saturday night, according to Environment Canada

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the legislature, Jan. 11, 2021. (B.C. government)
Vancouver Island smashes COVID-19 high: 47 new cases in a day

Blowing past previous records, Vancouver Island is not matching B.C.s downward trend

Nanaimo City Hall. (News Bulletin file photo)
City of Nanaimo councillors like new sustainable buying policy

Finance and audit committee recommends council approve new procurement policy

Action at the Nanaimo Curling Centre. (News Bulletin file photo)
Nanaimo sports organizations qualify for COVID-19 relief funding

Province announces support for curling, rowing, gymastics, softball, rugby, squash, football clubs

Businesses continue to struggle under COVID-19 restrictions as the pandemic reaches the one-year mark. (B.C. government)
Another 564 COVID-19 cases, mass vaccine plan coming Friday

15 more deaths, community cluster declared in Williams Lake

Police are searching for an alleged sex offender, Nicole Edwards, who they say has not returned to her Vancouver halfway house. (Police handout)
Police hunt for woman charged in ‘horrific’ assault who failed to return to Surrey halfway house

Call 911 immediately if you see alleged sex offender Nicole Edwards, police say

A screenshot from a local Instagram account video. The account appeared to be frequented by Mission students, and showed violent videos of students assaulting and bullying other students.
Parents, former students describe ‘culture of bullying’ in B.C. school district

Nearly two dozen voices come forward speaking of abuse haunting the hallways in Mission, B.C.

Joe Biden, then the U.S. vice-president, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau take their seats at the start of the First Ministers and National Indigenous Leaders meeting in Ottawa, Friday, Dec. 9, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau, Biden to talk today as death of Keystone XL reverberates in Canada

President Joe Biden opposed the Keystone XL expansion as vice-president under Barack Obama

Prince Edward Island’s provincial flag flies on a flag pole in Ottawa, Friday July 3, 2020. A lozenge plant in Prince Edward Island has laid off 30 workers, citing an “almost non-existent” cold and cough season amid COVID-19 restrictions. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
‘Almost non-existent’ cold and cough season: P.E.I. lozenge plant lays off 30 workers

The apparent drop in winter colds across the country seems to have weakened demand for medicine and natural remedies

Robert Riley Saunders. (File)
Disgraced Kelowna social worker faces another class-action lawsuit

Zackary Alphonse claims he was not informed of resources available to him upon leaving government care

A specialized RCMP team is investigating a suspicious trailer, which might have connections to the illicit drug trade, found abandoned outside a Cache Creek motel. (Photo credit: <em>Journal</em> files)
Police probe U-Haul trailer linked to illicit drugs left outside Cache Creek motel

Hazardous materials found inside believed to be consistent with the production of illicit drugs

Premier John Horgan leaves the podium following his first press conference of the year as he comments on various questions from the media in the Press Gallery at B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, January 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interprovincial travel restrictions a no-go, Horgan says after reviewing legal options

The B.C. NDP government sought legal advice as concerns of travel continue

SD62 bus driver Kerry Zado said it’s common to see drivers lose their patience and pass by his bus while he’s picking up students during the morning commute. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
Concerned Island school bus driver says people still pass while red lights flashing

All buses in Sooke School District outfitted with stop sign cameras

Most Read