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Mount St. Helen's alert dropped to level two

The volcano alert level at Mount St. Helen's was lowered yesterday (Wednesday), from level three, which indicates that an eruption is imminent, to level two. A level two alert indicates that although volcanic activity is still probable, it is not expected to threaten life or property.

According to the Joint Information Center in Vancouver, the U.S. Geological Survey will continue to monitor the situation at Mount St. Helen's closely and will issue additional updates and alert level changes as needed.

Over the past few weeks Mount St. Helen's has undergone an increase in seismic activity, as well as several ash and steam events, including the release of an ash plume Tuesday morning. Tuesday's release brought with it an ash fall alert for parts of northeastern Skamania County.

Following Tuesday's ash plume, seismic activity at the volcano dropped and by that evening individual events had become rare. According to officials at the Joint Information Center, seismicity has been stable at a low level on the mountain.

Despite the alert level being decreased, many areas around the mountain remained closed. Among those areas that are closed are Ape Cave near the town of Cougar, the Mt. Margaret back country located north of Spirit Lake and east of Coldwater Lake, and climbing above 4,800 feet is prohibited. Sections of the Loowit and Truman trails and the Willow trail on the north side of the volcano are closed, as is Forest Road 81 between Kalama Horse Camp and Cougar Snow Park and trailheads north of Forest Roads 81 and 83. State Route 504 at the Coldwater Ridge Visitors Center intersection to the Johnston Ridge Observatory is also closed.

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