USGS/DNR Press Release: http://www.usgs.gov/newsroom/article.asp?ID=3883#.U2lsdPlKiuL
May is Volcano Preparedness Month, according to a press release by the USGS. The USGS hopes that this month’s activities will help in “providing residents an opportunity to become more familiar with volcanic risk in their communities and learn about steps they can take to reduce potential impacts.”
With 5 Volcanoes in Washington State, being aware of the dangers that volcanoes pose is an important part of life in the Pacific Northwest. On May 18th, 1980, Mt St Helens erupted and had the largest recorded landslide occur. Just recently, you may have heard that magma is returning to Mt St Helens again. We decided to help put everyone at ease and called a representative at the Department of Natural Resources who works with the USGS on Volcano Preparedness Month.
Bob Redling, an employee with the DNR told us that while he wasn’t a scientist, he has talked to many experts that have assured him that the return of magma is “a normal process and is just a reminder that it is an active volcano.”
He went on to explain that the thing we should be most aware of is Lahars. Lahars are basically giant mud-flows that travel down existing riverbeds and flood, bury and destroy nearly everything they come across. If you have ever seen images of the Toutle River after the 1980 Mt. St. Helens eruption then you have seen a lahar.
While we were told that a volcanic event is not even a once in a lifetime event, the USGS and DNR want to make sure that everyone is aware of all the dangers that may occur. We were told by the DNR to remind everyone that there is always a threat of landslides from loose rock, eroding hillsides or melting snow/glaciers on the region’s mountains which could trigger an event similar to a Lahar downstream.
WHAT DOES ALL THIS MEAN?
While a natural disaster like a volcanic eruption of amazing proportions might not happen in your life, you should always be prepared for everything. While more information can be found through government websites (http://www.ready.gov/) we want to remind you of three important things.
1) Know your Evacuation Routes
2) Practice Emergency Drills
3) Have at least 72 Hours of Supplies
We might never get to see Mount Rainier erupt, but we should be prepared for it. With Mt St Helens regaining magma and Mount Rainier looming over the Pacific Northwest, May is a great time to take a minute and make sure that you, your family and your community will be ready for anything.