Tuesday, May 18th, 2021 marks the 41st Anniversary of the 1980 eruption of Mount Saint Helens in Southwest Washington. If you lived anywhere near Yakima on that fateful date, you'll remember the skies went eerily dark in the middle of the day, and tons of volcanic ash covered everything.

The air was literally thick with ash, causing many to have breathing difficulties. The current state of mask-wearing has often reminded me over these past few months, of what we saw during the hours and days following the St. Helens eruption. Often make-shift bandanas were all people had handy. Nobody really knew what to expect nor did we know what, if any health issues would arise as a result of exposure.

I was living in Wenatchee, Washington at the time. Wenatchee is about 110 miles north of Yakima and though it was darkened with ash, Yakima was by far a harder hit area. I was 18 years of age and working with a landscaping and lawn care company. We foolishly kept right on mowing the 72 lawns per week on our schedule. Well, at least we started out the week. About halfway through the first lawn, our lawnmower motors seized up after sucking up the blanket of ash that had fallen. We quickly added the title of ash-shovellers to our services offered list.

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There are many spectacular photo images of that day, as well as images from the years since, demonstrating new growth and expanded understanding. Check out this photo gallery.


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