37 years ago today: Mount St. Helens' deadly eruption

Robert Krimmel (Via USGS)

SKAMANIA CO., Wash. - Thirty-seven years ago, Washington was home to one of the deadliest and most economically destructive volcanic events in the history of the United States.

Mount Saint Helens erupted on May 18, 1980, after two months of increasing volcanic activity. It killed 57 people, destroyed hundreds of homes and leveled tens of thousands of acres of forest.

The blast blew about 1,314 feet off the volcano and created a horseshoe-shaped crater in the mountain, which now stands at 8,363 feet. It created an ash cloud that spread across the continental U.S in a matter of days, circling the earth in just over two weeks, the U.S. Geological Survey says.

A KOMO News photographer caught in the blast described it as "hell on earth".

Over the nearly four decades since the cataclysmic eruption, the USGS says it has noticed signs of recovery near the mountain. Though the agency notes that the signs of re-growth are positive, they say there are also signs of increased seismic activity.

Since its most recent eruption in 2008, a swarm of earthquakes have occurred, which are thought to be in response to the magmatic system "recharging," the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network says.

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