Mt. St. Helens spews steam; eruption hinted

Mt. St. Helens sent a plume of steam nearly three miles high Thursday and a series of shallow earthquakes rattled the volcano. A Forest Service spotter plane reported steam was spewing skyward, from 13,000 to 15,000 above sea level. There did not appear to be any new volcano ash in the boiling plume.

Mt. St. Helens had begun rumbling with its largest earthquake series of 1981 a few hours earlier. Scientists warned that the rolling quakes could portend an imminent eruption. Both the state and federal safety zones, extending out for more than 20 miles around the crater, were closed.

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