Tuesday, 08 March 2005

I was driving home from work today, crossed over Cornelius Pass Road and onto Highway 30. As I drove down the road I caught a glimpse of Mt. St. Helens, with what looked to be a standard-fare steam plume, typical of what one sees popping over the crater these days, coming out of it. The mountain dropped out of view behind some trees as I drove, and when I rounded a corner and saw it again a few minutes later, I noticed the plume was growing. Within a couple of minutes the plume was thousands of feet in the air. Huge. Pretty amazing really.

Anyhow, for what it's worth, here is my not-so-scientific observation...

First of all, the white cloud looked to be mostly a whole lot of steam. Some darker material appeared to be dropping over to the east of the mountain from the cloud, but honestly it's hard to tell shadows from falling material. The National Weather Service issued an ash-fall warning for that area.

Helens_blows200x160  050308usgs_helens

(Photos from KGW and USGS)

It looked like a bomb hit for a while, a big bulb of a cloud rising straight up from the crater. Then the wind started to push it to the east, and eventually it dropped and started to dissipate.

In my super-geek analysis, I can tell you that this was probably the new dome area involved, rather than the old dome. No surprise there. Why do I say that? Easy. It's a complete guesstimate...

Here is the new dome's seismograph, going offline first (click for large image):


...and here is the old dome's seismograph, knocked offline later than the new dome equipment:


Pretty amazing sight this evening. Unfortunately, I didn't have my good camera with me, but others have done plenty to photograph it.

UPDATE: USGS web site details and images on March 8 eruption.

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Mt. St. Helens
Tuesday, 08 March 2005 19:05:53 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Wednesday, 09 March 2005 13:32:24 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Looks like I got out of Dodge at just the right time. Keep your head low. :)
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