Since Sarah was in class tonight I could practice my commercial-time channel flipping*. The regular national news that airs on most channels just before 6:30pm was preempted by news of our local darling of the volcano world. Mt. St. Helens had an emissions/eruption that spewed ash and steam up to about 40,000' and certainly go the local news channels buzzing.
Since it became visibly active again last October 1 a new dome has been building inside the crater and since reached a height of over 900'. It's a strange looking, fin-like extrusion feature the geologists are calling the "whaleback" (more recent St. Helens photos and watch the mountain live on the VolcanoCam) and, from the looks of it, is really unstable. Mother Nature, after all, doesn't like geologic things with sharp edges or that stick out too far. It invariably tries to smooth those kinds of things out. The plume tonight, in my professional, er, geosciences major, opinion was some sort of collapse of the "whaleback" because the seismic signature that accompanied it wasn't substantial enough to kick up that much material from beneath as if it were a true eruption of new material. There were also no reports of increased gas emission level on flights over the volcano. Area news helicopters did capture some twilight shots of glowing fissures inside the volcano showing magma near if not reaching the surface.
Pretty cool stuff, though! My dad said he was driving home on I-5 and saw the largest puff rise from the crater rim up. Mom said she didn't see anything but gave dad credit since he didn't witness the 1980 eruption while she did. Too bad we weren't up at the Hideaway -- that would be a sweet view!