Boy howdy, It's coming up on 26 years since Mount St. Helens erupted, and a quote I can embroider on a pillow . . .
Mount St. Helens Is Recharging Its Magma Stores, Setting Off Earthquake Swarms
. . . "volcanoes spend most of their existence not erupting."
More below the fold, with a short Maddog story.
You see, Maddog lived in Portland back in the day, May 18, 1980 to be precise. Maddog watched the eruption from Washington Park, if I remember correctly, from the International Rose Test Garden. The mountain erupted, the ash went south and east and Maddog was relieved. June 12, 1980, was different, Portland was hit by its first ash fall in a very long time, lucky Maddog! It was kind of cool, for about one day, then it was just bad. Think about having everything for miles splashed with fine fireplace ash. Maddog and maddogsbr'er, made the best of it by washing ash off of roofs, and out of gutters.
We made good money! Although Maddog was already making good money working at a paper mill! I think back then Maddog made a good middle class wage of about $80-100 per day, $18,000 per year, in 1980. We made about the same amount washing off roofs and gutters each day, for many months. For a young kid in college, Maddog was rich. The median household income for 1980 was $16,671, which when adjusted for inflation was equal to $ 48,462 today. So, I wasn't kidding when I said I was rich for a college kid. I made about $7,000 (about $20,000 today) summer at a time when the median household (not individual) made only $16,671.
It seems I remember more than one ash fall from Mount St. Helens on Portland but . . .
This is not Portland, but it shows the wonders of living in a world filled with ash.
One year later, I moved to Colmalcalco, Mexico. The place had a cool Mayan ruin, the people were great, and I was having a blast. Then El Chichón erupted. Where Mount St. Helens covered Portland in a small amount of ash, El Chichón hammered Colmalcalco with many inches of ash. It was shocking.
One good memory I have of the time, was a group of children I had been telling about snow, and skiing came, woke me up, and told me it was snowing. When I opened the door, it was indeed snowing! Here I was in a dream, sweating, wearing nothing but running shorts, watching it snow, in tropical Mexico. Then I stepped outside, and I realized it wasn't snow, it was ash. That woke me up pretty quickly.
The ash was deep, and some building roofs in the area failed, although I am pretty sure the construction was of terribly low quality. One surprise was how quickly the Mexicans cleaned up the preponderance of the ash.
For a while I was pretty sure someone important had it in for me. I remembered reading about a man who was present for both the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic explosions. Maddog's history teacher told the class, the man was "lucky." Odd word to use. But today, looking back, perhaps the teacher was right, I feel lucky for having lived through two ash falls. I guess it is true, whatever does not kill you, makes you stronger. Or perhaps more interesting. Naah!
Hard to believe, it's not snow, it is something much more pernicious.