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When Mount St. Helens erupted on May 18th, 1980 in Washington State, over 200 square miles of vegetation was flattened in little more than an instant. I visited the blast zone in 1997 and saw trees blown over like matchsticks, stripped of their bark but only on the side facing the volcano. The blast and its consequences reportedly took with them more than 50 people and 250 homes. As tragic as such loss of life always is, the reason the toll wasn’t higher was that on March 20th that year Mount St Helens experienced an earthquake of 4.2 magnitude and by the end of the following month the side of the volcano had started to bulge. Further activity was confidently anticipated, and seconds before