Mount Hood is a potentially active volcano close to rapidly growing communities and recreation areas. The most likely widespread and hazardous consequence of a future eruption will be for lahars (rapidly moving mudflows) to sweep down the entire length of the Sandy (including the Zigzag) and White River valleys. Lahars can be generated by hot volcanic flows that melt snow and ice or by landslides from the steep upper flanks of the volcano. Structures close to river channels are at greatest risk of being destroyed. The degree of hazard decreases as height above a channel increases, but large lahars can affect areas more than 30 vertical meters (100 vertical feet) above river beds. The probability of eruption-generated lahars affecting the Sandy and White River valleys is 1-in-15 to l-in-30 during the next 30 years, whereas the probability of extensive areas in the Hood River Valley being affected by lahars is about ten times less. The accompanying volcano-hazard-zonation map outlines areas potentially at risk and shows that some areas may be too close for a reasonable chance of escape or survival during an eruption. Future eruptions of Mount Hood could seriously disrupt transportation (air, river, and highway), some municipal water supplies, and hydroelectric power generation and transmission in northwest Oregon and southwest Washington.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Volcano hazards in the Mount Hood region, Oregon
U.S. Geological Survey
Volcano Science Center, California Volcano Observatory