I just happened to be in Portland today. I went rafting in the morning with some friends on the Sandy River, a tributary of the Columbia. The eruption did not affect our trip at all. In fact we did not even know the mountain had blown until early afternoon when we were driving back into town. We wondered why all the cars were parked by the road and what people were stopped looking at.
There it was, a pillar of rock cloud going up to the stratosphere. Occasional bolts of lightning pulsed through it. It was so far away that, like clouds in the sky, it looked still. But from the shapes of the clouds bulges, you could tell things were in violent motion. The tortured column looked like cliffs of solid smoke. That was on the west, the upwind side, where you could see the details. To the east, downwind, the sky was black.
I thought it was wonderful. To me, it was just more of the amazingness of the Northwest.