It was almost exactly five years before that infamous peak in southwest Washington rumbled to life when Mount Baker, east of Bellingham in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, belched steam and ash into the air one day in March 1975.
The episode at Mount Baker in 1975 turned out much differently, of course, but it set into motion a chain of events that would function as something of a dry-run for what happened in 1980 at Mount St. Helens, at least in terms of the science.
Don Easterbrook is Professor Emeritus of Geology at Western Washington University and a fourth-generation Whatcom County resident. He’s lived in the shadow of Mount Baker for most of his 82 years.
Easterbrook says that Mount Baker, like many Cascade volcanoes, has always had some baseline amount of thermal activity going on in its crater, with steam occasionally rising from the top of the 10,781-foot peak.
“Mount Baker has been sort of steeping like a teapot for many, many years,” he said.