Where were you when Mount St. Helens erupted?

Photo of Mount St. Helens erupting on May 18, 1980.

37 years ago Mount St. Helens erupted, causing confusion, destruction and a sense of awe among those who lived in the Mid-Columbia Region at the time and lived through the historic event.

It was Sunday morning at 8:32 a.m. when the volcano erupted and over the next 9 hours, 520 million tons of ash would blow across Washington and parts of the nation, that according to the  U.S. Geological Survey. Those living in the area, who at the time were 4-years old to in their 20’s, say they will never forget where they were and what they were doing on that day.

Michele Slack from Walla Walla says she was 12-years-old watching Sunday morning cartoons when she heard what was a sonic boom.

“I didn’t think much of it, I just thought ‘well that was kinda strange,’ and then later the skies got dark and word started coming in Mount St. Helens erupted,” says Slack.

Norm Johnson from Kennewick had a rude awakening that morning.

“I was still in bed and I heard it boom and I thought it was a sonic boom and I went in and out and looked outside and there was clouds all over out there and stuff was falling out of the air,” says Johnson.

Others told us they were just leaving church, Gom Laundi, who lives in the Tri-Cities, wrote on our Facebook describing that he was living in Bellingham and was still asleep. He went on to write, “The floor and windows seemed to rattle and my first thought was that my brother and his friends were rough housing and angry, I got up and went to his room and yelled at them, only to find they were still asleep, I went back to my room and turned on the radio, where I heard Mount St. Helens just erupted.”

Another woman from Kennewick says she remembers it even though she was 4-years-old, “I remember that we were having a barbecue and it started to get dark and we had to go inside and the ash started to fall and it looked like snow.”

Gladie Nagamitsu, a former WSU employee, was living in Lind at the time and remembers the area got hit with 6 inches of ash compared to other areas like Othello and Ephrata which received closer to 2 or 3 inches, according to WSU researchers.

“Lind swimming pool had lots and lots and lots of ash in that, and they called in the National Guard to help get the ash out of the swimming pool,” says Nagamitsu.

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