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In brief: U.S. Geological Survey takes a closer look at Glacier Peak eruption potential

The U.S. Geological Survey has decided to keep a closer eye on Glacier Peak in Snohomish County. (Associated Press)
The U.S. Geological Survey has decided to keep a closer eye on Glacier Peak in Snohomish County. (Associated Press)

Survey looks at Glacier Peak eruption potential

The volcanic eruption may be a few centuries away, or maybe it could be in your lifetime. Who knows when Washington’s Glacier Peak will spit fire again?

The summit’s elevation is pegged at 10,541 feet. Climbing the peak won’t have as much status when an eruption takes off the top thousand feet or so the way Mount St. Helens was reduced in size in 1980.

The U.S. Geological Survey has decided to keep a closer eye on the namesake of the Glacier Peak Wilderness – the slumbering giant in Snohomish County’s wild, scenic backyard.

A new study is underway for Glacier Peak, one of the most dangerous but least monitored volcanoes in the country, according to a story in the Everett Herald.

The USGS National Volcano Early Warning System classifies Glacier Peak as a “very high threat” volcano, on par with Mount St. Helens or Mount Rainier. The St. Helens eruption in 1980 killed 57 people, destroyed hundreds of homes and wiped out at least 47 bridges and 185 miles of highway.

A large eruption of Glacier Peak could send a deadly wall of mud, rock and glacial melt barreling through parts of the Stillaguamish and Skagit valleys.

Glacier Peak is remote, with more than a dozen glaciers hugging its slopes, accessible only by trail.

Glacier Peak is one of 18 volcanoes in the country considered a “very high threat.” Threat levels were determined by scoring and ranking 169 U.S. volcanoes on factors such as past eruptions, recent seismic activity and proximity to populated areas and important infrastructure.

Most U.S. volcanoes dot the west coast of the country, part of the Ring of Fire that circles the Pacific Ocean. Five considered to present the highest threat are in Alaska, four each in Washington and Oregon, three in California and two in Hawaii.

Glacier Peak erupts more violently than the other four active volcanoes in Washington, USGS says. The last eruption was about 240 years ago, and the most recent large eruption took place an estimated 1,800 years ago. The odds of an eruption on any given day are about 1 in 1,000, based on USGS estimates.

The National Volcano Early Warning System has identified 57 volcanoes in the country that need better monitoring. Glacier Peak, Mount Baker, Mount Rainier and Mount St. Helens are listed as the highest priorities in Washington.

Gun range reduces hours

Starting Friday, the Farragut Shooting Range will be open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 9:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. The reduction in hours is necessary because of the reduction in daylight hours.

The range will close for the season at the end of shooting hours on Nov. 1 to coincide with the return to Standard Time.

When the range is open, it is staffed by trained volunteers or Idaho Department of Fish and Game employees. The fee is $5 per shooter.

Rimfire and centerfire rifles of less than .50 caliber and shoulder-fired muzzle-loaded rifles may be sighted in.

Work on the 50-yard handgun range is in progress, so it is not yet open.

Directions: Drive east on SR 54 from Athol toward Farragut State Park.  Before reaching the park, turn left on Perimeter Road and watch for the range sign on the right. A Farragut State Park entrance permit is not required to get to the range.

Info: (208) 769-1414.

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