It has been three decades since Mount St. Helens blew, but the event still fascinates - and defines - Southwest Washington. Read our May 19, 1980, story here.
A look at the history of Southwest Washington's resident volcano.
Eight things you must know about Mount St. Helens
More than anything, scientists say, Mount St. Helens' 2004-2008 dome-building eruption showed the world how gentle a killer can become.
On a gray Tuesday morning, a bevy of scientists clustered around a set of 14 peculiar silver boxes in a gravel parking lot near Mount St. Helens. Anticipation was high as the group waited for the sun to burn through a blanket of low-hanging clouds. A helicopter waited nearby to hoist the packages into the volcano’s crater and around the mountain flanks, putting the sensors into position to measure every volcanic hiccup.
In the late summer of 1991, Rick Hoblitt stepped out of a hulking Soviet helicopter in a mountainous stretch of Russian wilderness. Hoblitt took in the 9,453-foot peak looming on the horizon. A veteran volcanologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, Hoblitt had been dispatched to this corner of Russia’s remote Kamchatka Peninsula to seek valuable insight from a mountain said to strongly resemble the one he left behind in Southwest Washington.
Forest or mountaintop, which will come first? In a colossal race between natural processes, scientists are watching geological and ecological forces race each other in real time. Some are beginning to wonder whether the mountain will rebuild its once-conical top before a forest returns to its eruption-scarred surroundings.