Omigosh! It's been 27 years? It doesn't seem nearly that long ago. I was here in the Denver area. We got ash too, although not quite an inch. Not even a quarter of an inch. But definitely enough to worry about the finish on the car.
I was at uni in New Zealand but we had exchange students there from Oregon State University, so I well remember the day. What astonished me was how quickly little glass vials of 'Mt St Helen's ash' turned up in their mail packages from home.
While digging a hole during a home-setting job in Moses Lake, WA, my boss pointed out to me the change in the dirt layer several inches down, less than a foot deep. The ash layer is still there, a 1" thick reminder that 35 years is a blip in the Earth's timetable.
I sure remember it. After it blew the ash went eastward, a looooong swath. I was going to Winnipeg for my senior class trip and the sun was blocked out like a #20 welding filter. I had gone through the total solar eclipse the year before and was warning EVERYONE as we loaded the bus to QUIT LOOKING AT THE SUN as it could still hurt you. We drove in that for hours (plus a roadside breakdown which took awhile to fix, it made your hair stiff, and at the hotel we all left sandy windrows in the bathtub washing all that off and out of the hair. My lungs were undamaged as I had bronchitis and I coughed it all up (I had myself checked some years later when they had to scope me to retrieve something I aspirated. They said my lungs were 'clean' of that).
I had relatives in Washington State not far from there and they brought ice cream pails full of the ash to the reunion. They fuse a pretty green glass from the ash and use it in some glazes for pottery. Oh, they said it's still 'breathing' so it could warm up again...
(edit, it blew on my graduation day, and when we left on the trip the next day, we had the ash going through....)
I was five, and my mother was freaking out. My brother was a month old, and I remember her pacing the living room holding him, worrying about her parents' house in Scappoose. She told me my grandfather was having to go up on the roof and shovel ash every 4 hours to keep his roof from caving in. It's still kind of a landmark event to me. We used to go from SoCal to Oregon every summer, and a few summers later we toured the mudflow that wiped out the Toutle River and walked through an A frame house that had been filled with liquidized ash to hip level (well, hip level on an 8 year old). I have felt much more an Oregonian than a Californian since I was very small, and I remember being very sobered that such a disaster could happen in the place I considered my home.
I was in Marine Corps bootcamp when this blew. We were "up north" at San Onofre for combat training. We were woken up that Sunday morning by our tents shaking, and then we felt the ground moving a bit. Our duty drill instructor was yelling at the firewatch for shaking his tent. When the rest of the drill instructors showed up they told us it was Mount Saint Helens. I was home when it went off again in July, like the 4th or 5th time I think. Watched the ash cloud roll across the upper end of the Flathead Valley heading into Glacier.
I always find it a bit crazy when I'm ordering rock dust/Azomite by the bag . . . and then I think about the zillions of cubic yards of rock dust that covered everything east of St. Helens for hundreds of miles. All that amazing fertility was spread across thousands and thousands of square miles of farmer's fields and all the forests of Washington, Idaho and Montana.
For years, as you drove east on I 90 out of Seattle, you could see a thick layer of that "ash" in the ditches and along the sides of the road. In reality, it wasn't ash, it was pulverized rock. The rolling wheat fields of the Palouse, the orchards of the Tri-Cities, the potato fields of Idaho . . . everyone got a billion dollars worth of fertility dropped into their laps.
And now Mt. St. Helens is rebuilding pressure and swarm quakes are rattling nerves once again.
Post Tenebras Lux
Until further notice, we will celebrate everything.
I live about 75 miles east of St. Helen's. Will always remember that day. Was planting corn, elderly neighbor came out to the field and said"the mountain blew ", told him thanks and got back on the tractor. He made two more trips, getting more upset with me each time. About the last time, something started falling out of the sky. I headed to the barn, and thankfully put the equipped inside. Within a few minutes the ash really started falling. I guess within a hour or so it was completely dark. You could hold your hand , six inches in front of a flashlight and not see your hand. Got about 3 to 4 inches of ash when it was all over. No one knew what to do with it or what it would do to anything. Had all that ash on my roofs, made the mistake of trying to wash it off, the wrong thing to do. Ended up getting up there and shoveling it off. Had a low spot so dumped it in there, filling a big hole.
Did not drive my personal vehicles for over a week. Being in law enforcement, had to drive my patrol vehicle, starting the next day. Had to change the air filter about every two hours. Took out two sets of front wheel bearings. Car never was the same, ending up getting issued a new vehicle within two months.
All the business building had to have the roofs shoveled off. There were several large fruit warehouses that fell in from the weight of the ash.
Had to replant my corn, but because of the nutritional value of the ash, had a bumper crop. To this day under the right circumstances you can still see some ash.
Yes, it was quite an experience, but once was enough.
Went up to the mountain the next winter and could snowmobile on top of all the downed timber. A miracle how that country side has regrown.