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Things to do in May: Prepare for a volcano

Photo of Mount St. Helens via U.S. Geological Survey

The anniversary of the 1980 Mount St. Helens eruption is Saturday, and Oregon and Washington are recognizing May as Volcano Preparedness Month – a time to learn more about volcanoes and the potential hazards associated with them.

“We can’t forget the fact that the entire Cascade Range is built from volcanoes,” Oregon Office of Emergency Management Geologic Hazards Coordinator Althea Rizzo said. “We like to hike on them in the summertime – we like to ski on them in the wintertime, but we have to remember that beauty comes with a risk, and that risk is volcanic eruptions.”

There are 10 major volcanoes in Oregon and Washington. In Oregon: Mount Hood, Mount Jefferson, Three Sisters, Newberry, and Crater Lake. In Washington: Mount Adam, Mount Baker, Glacier Peak, Mount Rainier, and Mount St. Helens.

The eruption of Mount St. Helens on May 18, 1980 – the deadliest in U.S. history — killed 57 people, destroyed 27 bridges and almost 200 homes, and caused disruption for thousands of people.

Both the Oregon Office of Emergency Management and the Washington Department of Natural Resources reminds everyone that volcanoes do not erupt at regular intervals, so it is difficult to know exactly when or where the next eruption will happen. It is important to prepare ahead of time.

Oregonians and Washingtonians are urged to have an emergency plan in the event they need to evacuate, plus an emergency kit. It’s also a good idea to know what the health hazards are following a volcanic eruption.

“The nice thing about volcanoes is they tend to give you plenty of warning,” Rizzo said. “You will get a lot of signals that the volcano is waking up. They can wake up, they can go back to sleep, or they can ramp up and go boom.”

For more information on volcanoes visit:

You can also learn about the volcanoes in your state, along with how to prepare for one ahead of time:




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