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

Fatal car crash reported on Highway 92 near Lake Stevens

The 3 p.m. accident and investigation stopped traffic in both directions near Machias Road.

Firefighters come to the rescue and give mom new stroller

Donations to the Good Neighbor Program covered the $143.20 cost.

February trial set for suspect in deadly Marysville shooting

There had been questions about Wayne Alpert’s mental health.

Motorcyclist killed in crash had high level of THC

A motorcyclist had more than eight times the legal limit… Continue reading

Police: Driver threatens pedestrian, ends up in drug bust

Meth, cocaine and heroin were found in his car, along with a loaded pistol and cash, police say.

Son arrested for hitting father on head at Marysville home

The father grabbed a metal rod and struck his son in the head, too. Both needed medical treatment.

Cheering families welcome Kidd, Shoup after 6 months at sea

“I get back Daddy back today,” said one homemade sign at Naval Station Everett.

Lynnwood 15-year-old charged in killing of Everett woman

He told police that he and four other teens intended to rob the victim’s son, who was also shot.

Paine Field fire chief will be allowed to retire

In his letter, the airport director noted Jeff Bohnet was leaving while under investigation.

Most Read