A napping volcano blinked awake in March 1980. When that mountain roared two months later, Jim Scymanky was about twelve miles northwest, logging a north slope above Hoffstadt Creek. "Rocks zinged through the woods, bouncing off trees, then the tops of trees snapped off...Suddenly I could see nothing...it got hot right away, then scorching hot and impossible to breathe. The air had no oxygen, like being trapped underwater...I was being cremated, the pain unbearable." Mike Hubbard was further away--sixteen miles northwest, near Green River. "It was hard to breathe, my mouth hot and full of dust. I was on my knees, my back to the hot wind. It blew me along, lifting my rear so I was up on my hands...It was hot but I didn't feel burned...until I felt my ears curl." Steve Malone, at the University of Washington Seismology Laboratory, was inconsolable. "We'd failed. For two months we'd counted and located thousands of earthquakes, looked for changes to anticipate an eruption. Then it just happened. It killed many people...We could hardly work." Author Richard Waitt was one of the first to arrive following the mountain's early rumblings. A geologist with intimate knowledge of Mount St. Helens, Waitt tapped numerous primary sources--personal interviews and diaries, geologists' field notes, and more--to deliver a detailed, accurate chronicle of events. The eruption story unfolds through unforgettable, riveting narratives--the heart of a masterful chronology that also delivers engrossing science, history, and journalism.