Long before modern civilization came to the Pacific Northwest - a king sat high upon its throne. We know it today as Mount Rainier

Couple at Mt. Rainier

Mt. Rainier’s football field sized flat summit stands tall at 14,412 feet above sea-level.

Native cultures have referred to the mountain differently. 

The people of the Puyallup tribe have known the mountain as Tahoma or Tacoma since time immemorial. The word has multiple meanings, all with bioregional relevance. By definition, Tahoma can mean mother of waters or that frozen water both recognizing the glaciated peak as the significant source that it is. -Cascadiabioregion.org

Mt. Rainier is a constant companion for those living in the Puget Sound region. Locals are accustomed to saying “The Mountain is out” when seeing it.

We here in North Central Washington get an every now and then glimpse of this king -  near Moses Lake on I-90. From high atop Mission Ridge, or at the top of our local Wenatchee hiking trail “Twin Peaks”.  We can also glimpse this great icon - from HWY 97, driving the downslope from Manastash Ridge, between Yakima and Ellensburg. 

What if it erupts?

Geologists and Historians have documented a major eruption of Mt. Rainier every 500-700 years. The last major event for The Mountain occurred some 500 years ago. “The Electron Mudflow” sent debris and Lahars down the Puyallup River with sediment flowing as far down to Sumner, WA. Scientists cannot confirm if the mudflow was the result of an eruption. (USGS)

Various “Steam Explosions” were observed between the 1840s and the 1890s (USGS).

If we should get a major eruption of Rainier in our lifetime - chances are we’ll be okay here in Wenatchee. Depending on the direction of the wind, that day, we could see a sizable amount of ash falling anywhere from the Columbia Gorge, to Yakima (1980 all over again) - to us here in the Wenatchee Valley. 

Should we encounter significant ash fall - the Department of Natural Resources suggests: 

• Protect your Lungs. 

• Stay indoors

• Do not use transportation with gas combustion engines that will be damaged by the falling ash. 

• If you have to go outside, wear a respirator, put on long sleeve clothing - and cover all of your skin. 

More great tips, including - making sure no more than 4 inches of ash stacks up on your roof - can be found HERE from the DNR.

If you live closer - or find yourself vacationing close to Mt. Rainier during eruptions, be aware of pyroclastic blasts, lava and dangerous Lahar flow down rivers leading away from The Mountain.

The US Geological Survey provides a great map - graphically showing the areas prone to mud and lahar flows around a Mt. Rainier eruption.

USGS - Public/Open Source
USGS - Public/Open Source

Obvious tip: Evacuate if you are close by the volcanic eruption

A lesson learned from the Mt. St. Helens, 1980 eruption - Avoid and urgently escape any river, or low lying canyon or valley close by the mountain - You'll need to get away from Lahars.  Here is an example of the dangerous Lahar flows from a future eruption of Mt Rainier.

Source: ElimAgate on YouTube

Info source : USGS.gov and the Department of Natural Resources

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