Letter Re: The Yellowstone Super-Volcano and the American Redoubt States

Dear Mr. Rawles,  
I am heeding your advice about looking at Idaho Montana, Eastern Washington, and Eastern Oregon for my retreat.  But I am very concerned about the potential super volcano beneath Yellowstone National Park. I have researched the past eruptions and their ash falls.  I see from those maps that these areas are very much in that zone.  I’m concerned not so much for my generation but for my children and my children’s children.  I want my retreat to be viable for generations to come.  What is your thoughts regarding this threat?   Thank you! – Guy

JWR Replies: There have been a lot of sensationalistic news reports about Yellowstone supervolcano caldera in recent years. Most of these exaggerate the risk. More realistically, volcanologists tell us: “It could still be tens of thousands of years before the next eruption”. And, the “rapid uplift” that was widely reported in 2004 in 2005 has slowed, significantly.

Because of the prevailing winds, the anticipated volcanic ash fall is primarily a threat to eastern Montana, eastern Wyoming, the Dakotas and the Plains states. There is just a negligible threat to west of Yellowstone. If you consider it a threat in the next few generations, then simply buy property that is at least 100 miles UPWIND of Yellowstone. If there ever is an eruption at Yellowstone, anyone in northern Idaho or Northwestern Montana will only get ash fall that first circles the globe. It it will be people the Plains states that would get buried by several feet of ash.

As a bonus, locating UPWIND of Yellowstone will also put you upwind of Montana’s missile fields. It is noteworthy that Malmstrom AFB (which, BTW, is a locale in the second sequel to my novel “Patriots“, that I’m completing next month) has dozens of strategic nuclear targets. If we are ever engaged in “nuclear combat toe to toe with the Rooskies”, each silo could be targeted for a nuclear ground burst. (It is ground bursts rather than air bursts that create significant fallout.) Again, I wouldn’t want to live downwind.

And as a further bonus, the climate is also much more livable west of the Great Divide. East of the Great Divide, the winters can be bitterly cold, but west of the Great Divide it is more mild.