The recent volcanic activity on Hawaii's Mt. Kilauea brings a heightened interest and sense of newfound awareness of the threat in our backyards. There are more than 150 active volcanoes in the United States and five of them are in our State! Yes, we live in VOLCANO country.
Our active volcanoes are: Mt. Baker, Glacier Peak, Mt. Adams, Mt. Rainier and the most recently eruptive, Mt. St. Helens. If you lived here in 1980, you may remember the eruption of Mt. St. Helens on May 18th. I lived Northwest of the volcano, so I don't have a significant memory of the event, as the ash was pushed to the Eastern side of the State. However, my husband lived in Spokane and remembers vividly watching the buckets of ash fall from the sky through their home's front room windows. He remembers a mixed sky of red and grey in the early morning hours, making it feel more like the evening.
What I do remember vividly, was the educational outreach conducted by the media and the State to educate the residents near and far to the imminent threat of a volcanic eruption at Mt. St. Helens. For months preceding the eruption, we were inundated with media coverage of the potential impact of an eruption and folks living on or nearby were encouraged to seek shelter elsewhere. I remember learning of one such local resident that refused to evacuate and he along with 50+ others were killed by the event.
We can learn from the current volcanic activity that is happening in Hawaii and from the events that happened 38 years ago today! Yes, today is the 38th anniversary of the Mt. St. Helens volcanic eruption!
We may not have an eruption happening in our backyard today, however we could in the future. Luckily we have volcanologists that our monitoring our volcanic activity and reporting on a weekly basis. Pay attention to our geological professionals and heed their warnings!
If you happen to be a passenger or are stuck in traffic on 520 or I-90 today, take a look to the North and then again to the South and recognize the beauty of our volcanoes, as on a clear day you should be able to see Mt. Baker to the North and our majestic Mt. Rainier to the South.
Lastly, if you live closer to any of our 5 volcanoes, make sure you know the evacuation route and practice both on foot and in your vehicle(s)! Stock up on supplies and make your plans today.
To learn more, please visit the American Red Cross Volcano Preparedness site!
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