Forty years ago on May 18, 1980, at 8:32 a.m., Mount St. Helens erupted.
Blown up along with the mountain was most everything scientists thought they knew about how nature responds to a massive disturbance.
Language strains to capture the violence and scale of the blast. The main eruption would last nine hours and kill 57 people.
Once the most perfectly conical volcano in the Cascades looming in southwest Washington, just outside Longview in Skamania County, the eruption cratered the mountain’s lovely top – and lowered it by 1,314 feet.