35 years ago today Mount St. Helens erupted. It blew on a Sunday and devastated a large area, killing 57 people. The north face of the mountain slid off in the largest landslide in the US on record, and the blast blew off a large chunk of the mountain off in a pyroclastic blast that spread out in a flow that overtook the landslide. It spread out in a fan 23 miles across and 19 miles long hit. The blast was heard from British Columbia, to Idaho, Montana and northern California. The mountain lost 1,280 feet.
The ash cloud rose 15 miles into the air and dumped noticeable amounts of ash on 11 US states. My state (Idaho) was one of those. The ash cloud did make its way across the world, but its effects were felt mainly on the closest states and provinces.
That day is one I will remember for a long time still. I remember seeing the ash cloud, huge, dark and covering the entire horizon coming in and the inches of volcanic ash that fell. It was weird and somewhat frightening to a 10 year old, but very much something to remember. And I remember people complaining of the damage the acidic ash did to the finish of their cars. The forests and farms grew fairly well for some years after that from the ash. Even now you can find people who saved some of the St. Helens ash.
The Mount St. Helens eruption was one of the biggest shows that nature has put on in the US in my lifetime (Hurricane Katrina is up there too). It was immense, powerful and showed us how little effect we can have on the planet itself. There's nothing we can do to stop an eruption. All we can do is watch and wait and prepare to move out of the way.