May is Volcano Awareness Month in Washington State

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May is Volcano Awareness Month in Washington State, providing residents an opportunity to become more familiar with volcanic hazards in their communities and learn about steps they can take to reduce potential impacts.

By the numbers, the May 18, 1980, eruption of Mount St. Helens resulted in about $1 billion in damages. The eruption killed 57 people, approximately 7,000 big game animals, and about 12 million fingerlings in hatcheries. Lahars destroyed 27 bridges and nearly 200 homes, and volcanic ash caused the first known in-flight aircraft engine failure, plus disrupted thousands of households for many months. The devastation spurred efforts to understand the power and awe of those moments, and to communicate volcano hazards to people in at-risk communities.

For this reason, Washington State declares May as Volcano Awareness Month. This is a time for people in the Pacific Northwest to become familiar with volcano hazards in their communities and take steps to practice preparedness around volcanoes. Join with us this month in learning more about volcanoes and volcano hazards in the Cascade Range, and discover how you might be affected by the next volcanic event.

  • On Thursday, May 13, 2021, volcano scientists participated in a public webinar hosted by the Washington State Emergency Management Division, talking about Washington's volcanoes, the USGS' volcano monitoring program, and how communities near volcanoes can prepare for an eruption. Follow this link to view the recorded presentation.
  • On Tuesday, May 18, 2021 volcano scientists answered questions on the Reddit Ask Me Anything platform.
  • Throughout the month, information about volcanoes, volcano hazards, and monitoring was posted to USGS Volcanoes social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram). 

The May 18, 1980 catastrophic eruption of Mount St. Helens caused massive destruction and loss of life. It also became a catalyst for a new era of unprecedented scientific discovery, technology development and community awareness. The USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory and stakeholder agencies continually work to improve eruption forecasting and warning capabilities for Cascade volcanoes as part of the National Volcanic Early Warning System.