Preparedness Notes for Saturday — May 18, 2019

I just heard that novelist Herman Wouk passed away on May17th, at age 103. His novels–some still in print–will certainly outlive him.  From his obituary:  “In 1951, Wouk released his most celebrated novel, The Caine Mutiny. It sold slowly at first but eventually topped best-seller lists and won a Pulitzer.”

On May 18th, 1980, Mount St. Helens in Washington erupted, causing a massive avalanche and killing 57 people. Ash from the volcanic eruption fell as far away as Minnesota.

Seismic activity at Mount St. Helens, which is 96 miles south of Seattle, began on March 16. A 4.2-magnitude tremor was recorded four days later and then, on March 23-24, there were 174 different recorded tremors. The first eruption occurred on March 27, when a 250-foot wide vent opened up on top of the mountain. Ash was blasted 10,000 feet in the air, some of which came down nearly 300 miles away in Spokane. The ash caused static electricity and lightning bolts.

Throughout April, scientists watched a bulge on the north side of Mount St. Helens grow larger and larger. Finally, on May 18 at 8:32 a.m., a sudden 5.1-magnitude earthquake and eruption rocked the mountain. The north side of the peak rippled and blasted out ash at 650 miles per hour. A cloud of ash, rocks, gas and glacial ice roared down the side of the mountain at 100 mph. Fourteen miles of the Toutle River were buried up to 150 feet deep in the debris. Magma, at 1,300 degrees Fahrenheit, flowed for miles. The 24-megaton blast demolished a 230-square-mile area around the mountain.

May 18th, 1825 was the birthday of Daniel B. Wesson (of Smith & Wesson fame.)


  1. It is interesting that all the articles I have ever read about the eruption of Mt. St. Helens always use Seattle as the reference point to where the mountain located. Granted, St. Helens is in Washington state, but the city of Portland, Oregon is a mere 60 miles away to the southwest. I was there in Portland that day when she blew her top. The vision of that ash cloud rising up thousands of feet into the sky is one I will never forget. I will also remember the city being covered with a layer of ash to include my car. That died a few days later from the ash that was injected into the cylinders. Seems when ash is heated to its melting point, it will coat the the engines moving parts with glass and eventually the engine will cease to work. Made it to the junk yard on two cylinders. Peace.

  2. Some very famous pictures of the volcano erupting out there. We met the guy who took them when he was working as a docent at the park. Glad I wasn’t there!

    Author Harry Turtledove has a trilogy called Super Volcano about the Yellowstone caldera letting go. It was obvious that he did his research on the geology behind it and was a very entertaining and informative read. Titles are; Eruption, All Fall Down and Things Fall Apart.

  3. Ash landed in Bozeman, where I was a college student. We collected samples and put them under the microscope. They are crystalline knives in shape. Don’t breath in volcanic ash. It’s very damaging to soft lung tissue. Keep N95 or higher masks in your bugout gear.

  4. Mom just reminded me that Herman Wouk sent a nice handwritten response to my Grandmother’s letter thanking him for writing the Winds of War. What a nice touch! That’s a good lesson for all of us on the importance of interpersonal relations.

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