Mount St. Helens rumbles as scientists mark 34 years since 1980 eruption

MOUNT ST. HELENS -- Do you remember where you were 34 years ago on May 18? It's been almost 34 years since Mount St. Helens erupted but scientists say the volcano is rumbling again.

At the Johnston Ridge Observatory, monument scientist and man who's studied the mountain for 34 years, Peter Frenzen told our team, "It's just a matter of time. It's an active volcano. What we're talking about is essentially a pretty quiet extrusion of semi-solid magma - like Play-Doh squeezing out of the crater."

Scientists do not expect anything like the 1980 eruption. Franzen described what he saw when he flew in by helicopter to study the aftermath of the eruption 34 years ago.

"It was hot fragmented rock and ash sweeping across this landscape at more than 300 mph. Two hundred thirty square miles of forest scorched in three minutes time," Franzen said.

Franzen went on to say, "My prediction is that Mount St Helens will erupt again. The most likely thing is another dome building eruption like we had in 2004."

Park ranger Sarah Philips described it like this: "Instead of (magma) flowing out of the volcano it just piles up. Imagine squeezing a toothpaste tube."