USGS Update 2005-Mar-09 09:45
Potential ash hazards: Wind forecasts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), coupled with eruption models, show that any ash clouds that rise above the crater rim today would drift east-northeastward early in the day and shift to an east-southeastward drift later in the afternoon.
Potential ash hazards to aviation: Under current eruptive conditions, small, short-lived explosions may produce ash clouds that exceed 30,000 feet in altitude. Ash from such events can fall in trace amounts 100 miles or more downwind.
Recent observations: A small but significant explosive event occurred yesterday at 5:25 p.m. PST. Pilot reports indicated that the resulting steam-and-ash plume reached an altitude of 36,000 feet above sea level within minutes. The main eruption pulse lasted about 10 minutes, but lower levels of activity persisted for at least another 15 to 45 minutes. Within minutes of the onset of this event, we lost communication with 7 monitoring stations in the crater, but not with any stations outside the crater. The event followed a few hours of slightly increased seismicity that was noted but not interpreted as precursory activity. There were no other indications of an imminent change in activity. Still images from a camera at the northeast end of the crater mouth show a clear component of explosive vertical jetting associated with the event and evidence of ballistics extending at least as far as the north side of the old dome. Aerial photos in of the waning phases of the activity in conjunction with these still images show evidence of small ash flows having moved north and onto to old lava dome. There were reports of fine dustings of ash falling in Ellensberg, Yakima, and Toppenish, Washington between 7pm and 9pm yesterday. As of 2am today, the leading edge of the plume had been tracked to western Montana as a faint and diffuse cloud. Today, field crews will make visual observations and attempt to retrieve and possibly redeploy some of the crater instrumentation stations.
Growth of the new lava dome inside the crater of Mount St. Helens continues, accompanied by low rates of seismicity, low emissions of steam and volcanic gases, and minor production of ash. During such eruptions, episodic changes in the level of activity can occur over days to months. The eruption could also intensify suddenly or with little warning and produce explosions that cause hazardous conditions within several miles of the crater and farther downwind. Small lahars could suddenly descend the Toutle River if triggered by heavy rain or by interaction of hot rocks with snow and ice. These lahars pose a negligible hazard below the Sediment Retention Structure (SRS) but could pose a hazard along the river channel upstream.
Potential ash hazards to aviation: Under current eruptive conditions, small, short-lived explosions may produce ash clouds that exceed 30,000 feet in altitude. Ash from such events can travel 100 miles or more downwind.
The U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Washington continue to monitor the situation closely and will issue additional updates and changes in alert level as warranted.
My intent with this page is to provide a clearning house for links to the current activity at Mt.St.Helens. Please send me any links of interest that you may come across, whether for permanent sites or for news reports. I'm not going to be able to do this all alone and all help will be appreciated.
(Disclaimer I have no association with anyone or any organization, and speak only for myself. Links and quotes are provided for information only.)