Mt. Baker – Our Active Volcano In Whatcom County

20160617 Peaceful Valley

Under The Mountain (Photo by John Gargett)

Last month, we were reminded about the active volcano in our backyard by the May 25 debris flow that occurred on the Mt. Baker Boulder Glacier.

Though fascinating scientifically, the debris flow doesn’t pose a threat to any of our Whatcom County communities. According to Dave Tucker, Director of the Mount Baker Volcano Research Center and a geology professor at Western Washington University. “These debris flows consist mostly of ice and snow and do not flow more than a couple miles. They are not lahars and they rarely, if ever, travel beyond the margin of the Boulder Glacier. There is no risk to people from these small events, unless you happen to be on the Boulder Glacier.

Mt Baker Flows

Volcano Hazard Zones For Mt. Baker (USGS Report)

In Whatcom County, the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office, Division of Emergency Management is responsible for the volcanic planning efforts surrounding Mt. Baker.  Program Specialist Frances Burkhart has been leading Whatcom County efforts for Mt. Baker.

According to John Gargett, Deputy Director Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office, Division of Emergency Management, “Mt. Baker is, and has been, an active volcano, which we have been actively planning for since before the eruption of Mt. St. Helens in 1980. With the support of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Washington State and the geological community, we have produced hazard maps that show areas subject to lahars and mudflows, which are now being distributed.

20160617 Cover Page Mt Baker Glacier Peak Plan

Emergency Planning & Coordination Plan for Mt. Baker & Glacier Peak

Over the next two years, the Division of Emergency Management plans to continue its planning efforts in Whatcom County, including exercises and additional work with the eastern communities of Whatcom County, the North Cascades National Park, and Skagit and Okanagan Counties, as well as other partners in the Pacific Northwest.  The Mount Baker-Glacier Peak Coordination Plan is an example of the types of planning that are continuing and ongoing. You can read the plan by clicking on the image to the left.

If you’d like to learn more about the most recent debris flow and keep up with the latest Mt. Baker research, visit the Mount Baker Volcano Research Center Blog. To learn more about USGS volcano research visit their Volcano Hazards Program Website.

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