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"Fire Mountain"


"Fire Mountain"
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 3 to 4
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   7.41

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    crater, northwestern, toll, recreation, education, halt, helens, landscape, journey, eruption, rocks, view, unique, flow, steam, huge
     content words:    Washington State, United States, Washington Sate, Mount St, Columbia River, President Ronald Regan, National Volcanic Monument, Johnson Ridge Observatory, Volcanic Monument


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"Fire Mountain"
By Joyce Furstenau
  

1     Washington State is not the only state in the United States to have an active volcano in its landscape, but it is the eruption of this volcano that makes Washington Sate unique. Mt. St. Helens erupted at 8:32 AM on May 18, 1980, after 123 years of inactivity. The blast of rocks, ash, and gases swept across the land at speeds up to 670 miles an hour. Inside the blast, temperatures reached 600 degrees Fahrenheit. The force of the blast stripped trees from hillsides as far away as six miles from the volcano. This superheated ash quickly melted and mixed with existing snow and ice. Then it began to flow down the mountain. As the mudflow picked up speed, homes were carried away and deposited many miles downstream, or simply destroyed. In fifteen days, the ash from this explosion had circled the earth. In moments, it dropped down the list from being Washington State's 5th highest peak to being the 30th. A huge cloud of ash turned day into night for towns and cities across Washington and parts of northwestern America. Roads were closed and transportation of all kinds came to a halt. People were told to stay indoors and wear gauze masks to protect them from breathing in the ash.
 
2     The final death toll from the Mount St. Helens eruption was put at 57 (some of them scientists monitoring the volcano's activity) while an estimated 24,000 animals perished. Amazingly, within two days of the eruption about 150 survivors were rescued from the blast area. It took many months for the cities and towns to clean up the ash fall from buildings and roads, but within a year the first green plants began to bloom again through the ash.
 
3     There has been continued earthquake activity and small eruptions on and off since 1980. In late September 2004 after 18 years of relative quiet, hundreds of earthquakes signaled Mount St. Helens' reawakening. Activity increased, producing the first steam eruption on October 1st, 2004.

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