Updated:
Original:
Year
1985
Month Day
November 13

The eruption of Nevado del Ruiz

Nevado del Ruiz, the highest active volcano in the Andes Mountains of Colombia, suffers a mild eruption that generates a series of lava flows and surges over the volcano’s broad ice-covered summit. Flowing mixtures of water, ice, pumice, and other rock debris poured off the summit and sides of the volcano, forming “lahars” that flooded into the river valleys surrounding Ruiz. The lahars joined normal river channels, and massive flooding and mudslides was exacerbated by heavy rain. Within four hours of the eruption, the lahars traveled over 60 miles, killing more than 23,000 people, injuring over 5,000, and destroying more than 5,000 homes. Hardest hit was the town of Armero, where three quarters of the 28,700 inhabitants died.

The volcano first began showing signs of an imminent eruption a full year before, and most of the river valley’s residents would have survived had they have moved to higher ground.

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us!

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Darryl Dawkins breaks his first backboard

On November 13, 1979, in the middle of a game at the Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, Philadelphia 76ers center Darryl Dawkins leaps over Kansas City Kings forward Bill Robinzine and slam-dunks the basketball, shattering the fiberglass backboard. The result, according to ...read more

Ballinger-Pinchot scandal erupts

The Ballinger-Pinchot scandal erupts when Colliers magazine accuses Secretary of the Interior Richard Ballinger of shady dealings in Alaskan coal lands. It is, in essence, a conflict rooted in contrasting ideas about how to best use and conserve western natural resources. ...read more

McClellan snubs Lincoln

On this day in 1861, President Abraham Lincoln pays a late night visit to General George McClellan, who Lincoln had recently named general in chief of the Union army. The general retired to his chambers before speaking with the president. This was the most famous example of ...read more

Patriots take Montreal

On this day in 1775, Continental Army Brigadier General Richard Montgomery takes Montreal, Canada, without opposition. Montgomery’s victory owed its success in part to Ethan Allen’s disorganized defeat at the hand of British General and Canadian Royal Governor Guy Carleton at ...read more