Revisiting Mount St. Helens

May 17, 2001 -- As part of its 20th anniversary, NPR's Morning Edition is revisiting some of the big stories it covered during its first year on the air. The eruption of Mount St. Helens was one of those stories.

Mount St. Helens
Mount St. Helens
Photo: Neal Lawson

At 8:32 AM on May 18, 1980, Mount St. Helens erupted. The blast shook the Pacific Northwest. The explosion of the Washington volcano created an ash cloud that covered 230 square miles in less than four minutes. It filled in a lake and clogged rivers with mud and debris. The eruption and its aftermath took the lives of 57 people.

A young freelance reporter named Howard Berkes covered Mount St. Helens for Morning Edition and NPR in 1980. When the mountain erupted on May 18th, Howard was asleep in the loft of an A-frame house in Eugene, Oregon. The sound of the blast rocked him out of bed.

Correspondent Berkes and producer Charlie Mayer on Mount St. Helens punice plain
Correspondent Berkes and producer Charlie Mayer on Mount St. Helens pumice plain
Photo: Neal Lawson

Now, nearly twenty years after it erupted, Mount St. Helens has fallen dormant. Howard, now an NPR correspondent, returns to the mountain to see how it has recovered and to visit some of the people touched by its awesome power. audio button Listen to part one of NPR's Howard Berkes' report as heard on Morning Edition.

audio button Listen to part two of Howard's report as he investigates how nature is fairing there 19 years later.

Find out more about Mount St. Helens at the following locations:

  • For a live shot of Mount St. Helens, visit VolcanoCam.

  • The federal geologists who monitor Mount St. Helens and other mountains in the Pacific Northwest are based at the USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory in Vancouver, Washington.

  • Reflections and information on Mount St. Helens can be found in the Mount St. Helens Network Webazine.

  • The Mount St. Helens National Monument is part of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.