May 21, 2023

USA: Massive Landslide Near Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument Takes Out Parts Of Highway 504 And Trapped A Dozen People In The Area Overnight.

FOX 13 Seattle published May 15, 2023: 'Massive landslide' traps 12 on Mount St. Helens overnight. According to the Skamania County Sheriff's Office, the landslide occurred near the Johnston Ridge Observatory on SR 504 around 9 p.m. Sunday. Mud, trees and debris clogged the highway, and trapped a dozen people in the area overnight.
KGW News published May 15, 2023: Landslide near Mount St. Helens takes out parts of Highway 504. State Route 504 near Coldwater Lake was closed both ways because of a landslide that stranded about 12 people and a dog overnight. The group slept in their cars at the at Johnson Ridge Observatory. They were extracted and flown out via helicopter by King County Search and Rescue. Aaron Yanez with the Washington State Department of Transportation said the slide happened near milepost 49 just after 9 p.m. Sunday night. Yanez said they believe one of the people stranded called in the slide after coming face to face with it on their drive back from Mount St. Helens. Scientists think that a rapid change in weather led to this massive landslide.
KGW8 NBC News, Portland, Oregon local
written by KING 5 Staff
Monday May 15, 2023

WASHINGTON, USA — State Route 504 near Coldwater Lake will remain closed until further notice following a debris slide that caused "catastrophic" damage to the Spirit Lake Outlet Bridge leading to the Johnston Ridge Observatory.

The debris slide occurred within the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument on May 14. A hillside adjacent to SR 504 fell about 2,000 feet, covering the road with rock, mud, ice and water, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT).

WSDOT does not know when the road will reopen. Engineers have to examine the hill above the road, as well as debris below, before figuring out next steps.

“Additional safety analysis is needed, but due to the ongoing geological instability in the area, it’s too soon to tell when we’ll be able to safely do that work,” said Brad Clark, WSDOT Southwest Region Maintenance Manager. “We appreciate everyone’s patience during this emergency.”

The cause of the slide has not been officially determined. However, initial assessments show unseasonably hot temperatures caused snowpack to melt quickly, which oversaturated soil and caused a high volume of water to release downhill.

Tamara Greenwell, a WSDOT spokesperson, said searchers looked downstream for any cars or people who may have been washed away, but they did not find any evidence of anyone being killed or injured.

At least 11 people and a dog spent the night on the other side of the slide, staying up at Johnston Ridge Observatory. King County Search and Rescue utilized its helicopters to extract the people.

"All of a sudden I didn't see a road," said Robert Cornejo Garcia.

Garcia was heading home to Puyallup after playing a soccer game in Oregon when he decided to make a quick side trip to Mount St. Helens. He estimates he drove up to the slide area a couple of minutes after the slide happened.

"There was just huge trees coming down, loud noises," said Cornejo Garcia.

Ryan Crandall and his pet husky, Nalu, were grateful to be rescued out of the area.

Crandall went to the mountain to take overnight pictures of the Milky Way. It was his first trip to Mount St. Helens. Driving up, all he could think about was the historic 1980 eruption.

"I’m thinking how crazy would it be to have seen a natural disaster, seeing an explosion, and I end up being part of a natural disaster,," said Crandall.

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