Although the last recorded Mt. Rainier eruption was in 1894, it was considered to be minor considering what the active volcano is actually capable of.
Mt. Rainier reaches an elevation of over 14,000 feet and is considered the second largest active volcano on the planet. From the amount of glacial ice collected atop Mt. Rainier to the previous valleys created from its last large eruption roughly 500 years ago, when Mt. Rainier erupts the world will be watching.
Many people, including Washington state residents, do not know that Mt. Rainier is in fact one of the world’s most deadly volcanoes.
More than 80,000 residents reside directly in the path of Mt. Rainier and are at immediate danger during an eruption due to the fact that all the freeways and highways are paved through valleys formed during the last major eruption. These valleys will create perfect “lahars zones” that will make their way all the way up to Seattle, just 54 miles away. There are also many people who will be affected by the ash fall depending on the wind pattern as far as Oregon to even Idaho and Montana, as well as even Canada.
The Biggest Danger: Lahars
Over 500 years ago, during the last eruption produced by Mt. Rainier, valleys were formed that are now occupied by tens of thousands of people. These valleys were paved through by the lahars from the previous eruption and will make routes for future lahars during the next eruption. Also, due to the amount of glacial melt collected atop Mt. Rainier, lava is not likely to be seen. Instead, melted ice will collect debris and turn into rushing rivers, taking out everything in their path at upwards of 100MPH.
Within just a few hours, the lahars from Mt. Rainier will make their way to major roadways such as highways 410, 512, and 164 as well as the major interstate freeway I5. Once this happens, gridlock will begin literally trapping residents within their current locations. In case of an eruption event these major roadways should be avoided at all costs.
Getting to High Ground: Avoiding Wind and Ash
For residents not immediately surrounding Mt. Rainier, ash fall will pose an extreme risk for respiratory damage, and all of the natural bodies of water will be no longer safe to drink due to the ash fall. Wind direction and speed will determine where the majority of the ash fall will settle; however, based on the size of Mt. Rainier, the ash fall is likely to black out the sky for residents who live up to 50 miles from the mountain.
In order to counter these likely events, have storable water and food as well as gas masks and additional filters for every member of the family. Avoid overexposure to ash fall as too much exposure could end up fatal, and bring in all animals and livestock indoors if possible.
During such a catastrophe as a Mt. Rainier eruption, looting is expected to immediately ensue. Along with looting also comes violence. Be sure that you and your family have the adequate protection as to ward off home invaders or groups of thugs that might take to criminal activity as the first sign of a societal collapse.
Be sure to also have on hand maps of the surrounding areas for evacuation purposes; water filtration kits in case water needs to be collected from elsewhere; and basic survival tools for building fires, hunting, and of course providing shelter if your home must be evacuated.
To learn more about surviving a Mt. Rainier eruption, check out the video below.