May 18, 1980: Mount St. Helens eruption

On May 18, 1980, Mount St. Helens erupted into the Pacific Northwest’s most cataclysmic event in recorded history. The blast killed 57, forced thousands to leave their homes and sent a thick cloud of ash across three states; trace amounts were found around the world.

The Herald went to press the next day:

“The explosion early Sunday knocked 1,300 feet off the top of the once pristine 9,677-foot peak, which until March had been quiet since 1857.

‘It looks like the aftermath of an atomic explosion,’ said Dwight E. Reber, a pilot for Columbia Helicopters, Inc. of Aurora, Ore.

Ash and flows of gas and newly formed rock poured from the mountain Sunday.

Earlier today, a mile-wide wall of mud was seen oozing down the north fork of the Toutle River snapping concrete and steel bridges like toothpicks and sweeping cars and houses in its wake.”

Thirty years later, The Herald asked readers to recall the day of the blast.

Reporter Bill Sheets wrote:

“The Herald asked readers to share their recollections of the day Mount St. Helens exploded, killing 57 people, causing massive damage and generating an ash cloud that traveled around the world in 15 days. Some ventured into the blast zone. Others heard a loud boom, saw the ash cloud or both. Others had ash raining down around them. None of them will ever forget that day.”

One reader spoke about the ash cloud:

“Every time you took a breath it would stick to your throat or get stuck in your nose. At that point I started to go into shock,” he said. “You couldn’t see anything. You couldn’t see your hand in front of your face.”

Take a look at the May 18, 1980 edition of The Herald in our collection of historic front pages.

Or look through photos of the blast in our gallery.

More in Local News

3 crashes caused by driver of stolen car

A police dog chased down the suspect near the scene of the third crash.

Grief for the planet is real, and students are feeling it

“They’re losing sleep,” says a UW Bothell lecturer. She leads a seminar on environmental anxiety.

Special election Tuesday: Libraries, schools, fire districts

Property levies are on the ballot for the Sno-Isle Library District and Darrington schools.

Everett school leaders mull next steps on bond, overcrowding

Officials are in this position after voters did not approve a $330.6 million bond measure in February.

Herald photos of the week

The latest collection of top images by Herald photographers.

Granite Falls puts new sewer connections on hold

A surge of residential development is on track to eat up its remaining sewer capacity.

Final feedback of future of Marysville’s schools

Officials now begin to prepare recommendations on high school reconfiguration and other issues.

Front Porch

EVENTS Holocaust talk Everett Community College’s “Surviving the Holocaust” speaker series continues… Continue reading

Cougs beat Dawgs — and the Hawks

WSU boasts the No. 1 specialty license plate, and the money that comes with it.

Most Read