Visitors travel to see Mount St. Helens on 40th anniversary of explosion

VIDEO: 40th anniversary of Mount St. Helens eruption

On May 18, 1980, Mount St. Helens roared, set off massive explosions and darkened the skies with an 80,000-foot plume of ash.

“It blows my mind to see how powerful that volcano was, the actual explosion and how much it’s changed the layout of the area,” said Micah Diffendal.

It’s a disaster unlike any other in American history.

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Seeing Mount St. Helens in-person has always been Micah’s dream. Forty years ago, as the volcano shook the earth at 8:32 a.m., Micah’s mother was going into labor hundreds of miles away.

“I share history with this mountain some way, and I wanted to be able to see it and actually experience it myself,” he said. "You feel a little connection."

Forty years later, Micah made the trip to Mount St. Helens from Colorado and brought his whole family along.

“It was everything I thought it was going to be,” he said.

The day of the eruption, the mountain’s north face collapsed. The blast triggered the largest landslide in recorded history, flattened trees, destroyed homes and killed 57 people.

The wind blew 520 million tons of ash across the country, all the way to the Diffendal's home.

“The next morning we got up and we had ash on our cars in Colorado,” said Ernest Diffendal.

The family had hoped to take part in anniversary festivities, but coronavirus closed the Mount St. Helens visitor center.

Nevertheless, Micah is happy to be traveling with his family, marking milestones both in his life and our country's.

“It’s sort of that big number, right? 40th birthday. You turn forty, supposedly you’re over the hill, and I wanted to come out here as well, so it’s been something on my bucket list to do,” said Micah.