Yet Another Reason Not To Live On The Left Coast

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If you don't get wiped out in the Big One (either here, here, or even here), torched in a wildfire, swept away in a mudslide, or irritated to death by freaks, you now have a new concern: Washington's Mount Whitney is overdue to blow its top:

"Clear sightlines have made it possible to gaze at Rainier and appreciate it less as an intermittent aesthetic pleasure and more for what the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) warns that it really is.

'A monumental threat,' said William E. Scott, scientist in charge of the Cascades Volcano Observatory, a USGS center that monitors volcanoes from California to Alaska.Volcanologists determined in the late 1990s that the mountain is far more unstable than previously thought, and they have since persuaded local emergency management officials to launch an early-warning system and a major public-awareness campaign. Tens of thousands of people are being told to 'enjoy the volcano in your back yard' but to be prepared to run away from it — fast. The town nearest Rainier has about 40 minutes to flee. Inside the national park that encircles the mountain, scientists in recent months have shortened the run-for-it survival time to five minutes."
And when it goes, it'll be worse than Mount St. Helens because the area is more densely populated:
"The volcano has a long, spotty history of spontaneous collapse and massive mudflows called lahars.

About 150,000 people now live atop lahars that have rioted down the slopes of Mount Rainier over the past 5,000 years. The lahars ran all the way to what are now the ports of Tacoma and Seattle, distances, respectively, of 50 and 75 miles.

No volcano in the lower 48 states packs so much risk so close to so many people, Scott said. Mount St. Helens, which erupted in 1980 and killed 57 people, is more active than Rainier, but it is not near large population centers."

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This page contains a single entry by Chris published on August 12, 2003 6:18 AM.

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