History of the Mount St. Helens VolcanoCams
The following FAQs and answers explain the history of the Mount St. Helens
How long has the VolcanoCam been operating?
The Mount St. Helens VolcanoCam first started sometime in 1996. It was one
of the very first web cameras installed on the World Wide Web pointed at an
Why was the VolcanoCam installed?
There really isn't an answer to the question, or more accurately, we haven't
been able to locate all of the original documentation used to acquire the original
VolcanoCam. We do know the Gifford Pinchot National Forest was one of the first
national forests to have its own web site. It stands to reason that Mount St.
Helens was an obvious choice for a web camera for the new web site.
Are we viewing with the original VolcanoCam?
The original Mount St. Helens VolcanoCam and its web server operated continuously
with no problems (except for an occasional power failure at the Johnston Ridge
until October, 2002. In October, 2002, the web server CPU fan failed causing
the server CPU to overheat and shut down. We quickly replaced the server with
a surplus computer and the VolcanoCam continued to operate. However, in May,
2003, it became apparent the VolcanoCam web camera was showing its age. The
web camera was enclosed in a weather-resistant external case,
complete with heater and defogger. However, the extreme weather conditions
during the previous six years (temperature changes greater than 100*F, snow,
rain, fog), along with severe environmental issues (high winds blowing final
volcanic ash that can cut glass and destroy electronic components) finally
took its toll. We retired the VolcanoCam in June, 2003.
We thought that replacing the Mount St. Helens VolcanoCam would
take month or two at the most. However, the tough weather conditions and environmental
issues at Mount St. Helens eliminated practically every web camera we looked
at in our research. With a limited budget (thanks to a grant from
Interpretive Association), we could not afford some of the latest and best
technology that the VolcanoCam decerves. Finally, no web camera
manufacturer came forward with a potential donation that did not have strings
attached so our search took longer than expected.
Once we finally found a web camera that met our requirements, it became a
waiting game. With various staff away on fire fighting duty in the summers
of 2003 and 2004, along with the long winter of 2003/2004, we had to wait until
all schedules could come together. We also ran into a security issue with the
hardware/software we were using. We solved that problem when we found additional
government surplus computers that passed the security tests.
We installed the
current Mount St. Helens VolcanoCam on September 23, 2004, the very same
day Mount St. Helens began rumbling. While we should all take
this as a mere coincidence, some of us do believe Mount St. Helens began
her happy dance as a celebration that she is now back on the Internet 24/7
all the world to see. Well, that's our story and we're sticking to it.
Are you planning to upgrade or install any new VolcanoCams?