CAPTION: This unique airflow setup on cruisers allowed Washington State Patrol (WSP) officers to breathe easier as they patrolled the ash-covered surroundings of Skamania County, Washington, following the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens. (Courtesy: WSP)
SKAMANIA COUNTY, Wash. — It’s been 42 years since Mount St. Helens erupted, and the Washington State Patrol (WSP) recently remembered the anniversary by sharing this photo on Facebook showing cruisers outfitted with special snorkels and extra filters.
This hastily engineered setup allowed the officers to continue patrolling in the ash-covered areas.
WSP did not mention anything further about these very special cars in its Facebook post; however, several people who commented remembered the cars.
“Yes, my Father was an ER Dr. at Tacoma General and they fitted his car with the same,” wrote Karen Slominski.
Brewer Judy wrote: “Totally remember seeing these cars on the roads.”
Christofer Leer wrote: “My Mom worked for Thurston County and I remember the breather setups on the deputy’s patrol vehicles when I saw them sitting at the courthouse.”
Mount St. Helens’s major eruption on May 18, 1980, remains the deadliest and most economically destructive volcanic event in U.S. history.
Fifty-seven people were killed; 200 homes, 47 bridges, 15 miles of railways, and 185 miles of highway were destroyed, according to a Wikipedia post.
A massive debris avalanche, triggered by a magnitude 5.1 earthquake, caused a lateral eruption that reduced the elevation of the mountain’s summit from 9,677 feet to 8,363 feet, leaving a mile-wide, horseshoe-shaped crater.
The debris avalanche was 0.6 cubic miles in volume.
The 1980 eruption disrupted terrestrial ecosystems near the volcano.
By contrast, aquatic ecosystems in the area greatly benefited from the amounts of ash, allowing life to multiply rapidly. Six years after the eruption, most lakes in the area had returned to their normal state.
After its 1980 eruption, the volcano had continuous volcanic activity until 2008. Geologists predict that future eruptions will be more destructive, since the configuration of the lava domes there require more pressure to erupt.
Despite this, Mount St Helens is a popular hiking spot, and it is climbed year-round.
In 1982, the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument was established by U.S President Ronald Reagan and the U.S Congress.