In honor of the 40th anniversary of the Mt. St. Helen's eruption

Friday, May 22, 2020

Photo by Mary Igl

No. It's not a volcano - just a very interesting cloud formation Thursday over west Shoreline.

My Mt. St. Helen's story: I was at work when we heard about the eruption. I kept waiting for the ash to cover us. I didn't know about air currents and normal wind direction in Puget Sound then. And of course it never touched Seattle. One of my coworkers had been in Yakima with her family. She talked about the ash covering everything, falling like snow, piling up inches deep in the streets. 

They jumped in their car to hurry home. Cars were stranded all over the pass because the ash was clogging the vehicle air filters. Her father was a mechanic and he jury-rigged an air filter. Every time the car slowed, he'd jump out and fix the air filter. She was still pretty shocked by the whole experience, even the next day.

But the best story was the coworker who was returning from Portland the morning of the eruption. In those days there was very little traffic on I-5, particularly around the Mt. St. Helen's area. You could travel 80 mph and there would be only half a dozen cars around you. He was buzzing up the freeway and up ahead the cars were stopped in random positions - on the side of the road, in the middle, across lanes. They were at odd angles as if they had stopped very quickly.

You can bet he stopped too. In the middle of I-5. 

The cars had stopped because there was a huge herd of elk walking across the freeway. Everyone just sat there and watched them pass.

He got back to the office and was telling everyone about this wild experience he had had. And then the mountain blew.

And your story?

--Diane Hettrick


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