35 Years Ago, Mt. St. Helens Opened An Awe-Inspring, Majestic Can Of Whoop-Ass On Us

May 18, 2015


Today marks the 35-year anniversary of the eruption of Mt. St. Helens, in southern Washington State.  What follows is a chronology of some of the more note-worthy moments:

Look at it. So quiet. So serene. Juuuust waiting for you to forget it’s even there. Just forget about the little old mountain for 10 or 20 thousand years and KABLAM-O.

July 9, 38,000 BC – Mount St. Helens forms, beginning a devious plot to erupt and destroy the area towns.

August 15, 1979 – As per the Law of Disaster Movies, a young volcanologist runs in to USGS headquarters demanding that they listen to him!  That Mount St. Helens is building toward an eruption! And then is laughed out of the room by the arrogant, foolish, corporate stooge scientists.

October 3, 1979 – The public in the southern Washington region is warned that an eruption could occur at any time.  “What should we do if it does?” the public asks.  “Do?” the USGS replies.  “I don’t know.  It’s a volcano.  Die, probably?”  “Well, gee, thanks for the warning,” the public sneers sarcastically.

February 19, 1980 – Jill Gustavson of Olympia punches her husband in the face after he shakes the dinner table and yells, “Oh my God, it’s the eruption!” one too many times.

April 10, 1980 – Massive avalanches on the mountain are declared “totally awesome” by skiers in the area.

No, that's a Thunderdome.  Common mistake.

No, that’s a Thunderdome. Common mistake.

April 30, 1980 – Scientists warn that the giant “cryptodome” bulge on the north face indicates that eruption is all but inevitable.  A concerned populace tries desperately to not visualize a gigantic, mountain-sized zit.

May 2, 1980 – 83-year-old Harry Randall Truman refuses to evacuate the area, opting to stay in his cabin at the base of the mountain, thus satisfying the “crusty old-timer who ain’t a-goin’ nowheres” clause of the natural disaster contract.

May 15 – My friend Amanda’s birthday takes place, which I always think is the 18th because I remember that one’s the 15th, and one’s the 18th so I always remember it a couple days late.  One of the many tragic stories of the volcano’s aftermath.

May 17, 1980 – Public pressure forces authorities to let loggers to continue working the forest in the region, and to let tourists come look around the steaming, bulging, shaking volcanic peak.  This is true.  People are idiots.  This is also true.

May 18, 1980 – 8:31am.  A scientist taking measurements on the mountain sees that a massive slide has occurred down the north face, indicating eruption is imminent.  “Incredible,” he mutters.  Followed shortly by: “Oh, shit.”

“Um, excuse you?” “That wasn’t me. I’m pretty sure that was a volcanic eruption.” “Oh.”

8:32am – A massive eruption occurs.  The eruption is so loud it is heard by a little boy in central Oregon who hears it and thinks, “Someday I’ll blog about this.”  This, many argue, is the most dramatically significant moment of the eruption.

8:37am – Suddenly believing that his family will be consumed in ash, as the people in Vesuvius were, Albert DelJohns tries to get his family to contort into bizarre poses, so that when the archeologists find their ashen casts centuries on it’ll be “totally hilarious.”  He is voted down.

8:42am – Ash has already been blasted 12 miles in to the air.  Andrea Thompson of Yakima wins her “How quickly with the plume reach the 10-mile mark” office pool with her guess of 9 minutes, beating out the next closest guess of “What the hell’s wrong with you, Andrea?  Get the in the damn shelter!”

9:07am – School’s canceled!  Yaaaay!

12:31pm – The eruption continues, unabated. This being the Pacific Northwest, jaded hipsters talk about being “in to the volcano before it got all mainstream.”

4:51pm – The eruption, finally abating, is the equivalent of 20,000 atomic blasts.  Mother Earth is all like, “Oh, did I interrupt your big, tough arms race?  I’m sorry.  Don’t mind my awesome power.”

Most of the damage appears to be at the front of the vehicle, indicating – Mr. Wykes – that you ran in to the volcano, not the other way around.

May 19 – Roger Wykes attempts to report the destruction of his car after it is crushed under ash and debris.  The insurance company argues ‘driver fault’ for failing to yield to the volcano.

May 23 – A second eruption takes place.  Most critics agree the eruption is purely derivative of the first.  Unnecessary, they say, gratuitous and simply trying to cash in on earlier success.

October 2004-2008 – St. Helens becomes active again before quieting down at long last.  The mountain goes oh so quiet.  “Nothing to see here,” it assures the public.  “Just a little ol’, quiet mountain.”

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About The Byronic Man

Recently voted "The Best Humor Site in America That I, Personally, Write," The Byronic Man is sometimes fiction, but sometimes autobiography. And sometimes cultural criticism. Oh, and occasionally reviews. Okay, it's all those different things, but always humorous. Except on the occasions that it's not. Ah, geez. Look, it's a lot of things, okay? You might like it, is the point.

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31 Comments on “35 Years Ago, Mt. St. Helens Opened An Awe-Inspring, Majestic Can Of Whoop-Ass On Us”

  1. Michael Says:

    Albert should’ve gone for the YMCA pose. That’s always popular. And if you’re going to get killed by volcano, why not go out with style?


  2. jokedujour Says:

    “One day I’ll blog about this”, brilliant.


  3. She's a Maineiac Says:

    Thank GOD that little boy lived to blog about this because I just about spit out my coffee with the line: He is voted down.


  4. BrainRants Says:

    Several days later, another young boy in So Cal is told by his father to rinse off the cars because there’s volcano ash all over it. Boy does as he’s told ’cause that’s the way shit works in his house.


  5. autumnashbough Says:

    “the crusty old-timer who ain’t a-goin’ nowheres” — always one. At least no one got killed going back in to save him. I never understand that in movies. They wanna die? Let ’em! Save the dog or cat instead. Much more satisfying.


  6. Lorna's Voice Says:

    On a clear day, I can see the volcano from where I live now. Just read in the paper that there are all kinds of activities to do near the volcano–horseback riding, hiking, picnics, a water slide… It’s a vacation destination, B-Man! I also read that she’s due to blow again sometime in “our” generation. Don’t know which “our” the scientists were referring to, but I’m going to visit the Mt. St. Helen’s theme park sooner rather than later. I’d much rather slide on water than on lava, wouldn’t you?


  7. becomingcliche Says:

    Feb 19. The best. The very best.


  8. minefake Says:

    OMG! It is showing ME in the random sampling of byromaniacs! Freak out time!


  9. minefake Says:

    Or is that normal? I’m confused.


  10. cordeliasmom2012 Says:

    Don’t tell me who Roger Wykes insurance company is – I’m pretty sure it’s the same one I have. (“It’s your own fault the water came in under the basement apartment door. We only cover such damage on the upper floors.”)


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      I guess the origins of insurance was that all the people in the community would throw some money in a collective pool. Then, when tragedy struck, there were funds for whomever needed it. Can you imagine how quickly the system would fold if neighbors were constantly declaring “pre-existing condition” and “owner fault”?


  11. Elyse Says:

    My best laugh of the day: “A concerned populace tries desperately to not visualize a gigantic, mountain-sized zit.”

    But you forgot to mention the time when Pierce Brosnan showed up.


  12. This British-American Life Says:

    And a little boy in England who eventually became my husband had a wetter summer than usual because of the aftermath. I am still not sure how he noticed the difference.


  13. LVital7019 Says:

    That was the bomb. Pun intended.


  14. itsmayurremember Says:

    One day I’ll blog! Nice post!


  15. anecdotaltales Says:

    There was a kid in our class that was born the same day. I constantly referred to May 18th, 1980, as the day two natural disasters happened. We Washington kids were cruel. (I blame Nirvana.)


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