In an extraordinarily unself-critical book called Surviving Galeras, Williams said he could "only shake my head in wonder" when he learned afterward that his colleagues in the world of volcanology had suggested that he had overlooked or disregarded important seismic signals and behaved recklessly. "How easy it is to snipe after the fact, to apply the knowledge we have now to the events of 1993," he wrote. He was guilty of nothing worse, he believed, than unlucky timing when Galeras "behaved capriciously, as natural forces are wont to do. I was fooled, and for that I will take responsibility. But I do not feel guilty about the deaths of my colleagues. There is no guilt. There was only an eruption."
But to return to Washington. Mount St. Helens lost thirteen hundred feet of peak, and 230 square miles of forest were devastated. Enough trees to build 150,000 homes (or 300,000 in some reports) were blown away. The damage was placed at $2.7 billion. A giant column of smoke and ash rose to a height of sixty thousand feet in less than ten minutes. An airliner some thirty miles away reported being pelted with rocks.