You probably thought we’d never reached that day, but here we are: May 18th, 1980. I’ve used mostly witness statements to try to capture the chaos of those first hours. The science will come later, as it did then.
And believe me when I say we’ve only just begun. So much happened that day. So much happened later that year. It’s going to take a while to unpack it.
There’s a video that plays at the Johnston Ridge Observatory. It’s not posted on the US Forest Service or USGS channels, but I was able to track down a copy of it online. It has some excellent computer animations, and a lot of very good information, but the most haunting thing about it is hearing the recording of David Johnston’s last words. It comes right at the beginning, so if you’re prone to being freaked out by that sort of thing, skip the first several seconds.
That video always leaves me with chills.
Plenty of science to come. And never fear: when we’ve finished Mount St. Helens at last, I’ve got another series planned. Actually, two. One of which is, indeed, a volcano, but the other is a bit more exotic. But you’ll have to wait a bit before you find out exactly what they are, because I am an evil author and am obliged to leave you on cliffs. It’s okay: you like geology, and will enjoy looking at the lovely strata whilst you wait.