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This paper presents the design and deployment experience of an air-dropped wireless sensor network for volcano hazard monitoring. The deployment of five self-contained stations into the rugged crater of Mount St. Helens only took one hour with a helicopter. The stations communicate with each other through an amplified 802.15.4 radio and establish a self-forming and self-healing multihop wireless network. The transmit distance between stations was up to 8 km with favorable topography. Each sensor station collects and delivers real-time continuous seismic, infrasonic, lightning, GPS raw data to a gateway. The main contribution of this paper is the design of a robust sensor network optimized for rapid deployment during periods of volcanic unrest and provide real-time long-term volcano monitoring. The system supports UTC-time-synchronized data acquisition with 1 ms accuracy, and is remotely configurable. It has been tested in the lab environment, the outdoor campus, and the volcano crater. Despite the heavy rain, snow, and ice as well as gusts exceeding 160 km per hour, the sensor network has achieved a remarkable packet delivery ratio above 99 percent with an overall system uptime of about 93.8 percent over the 1.5 months evaluation period after deployment. Our initial deployment experiences with the system demonstrated to discipline scientists that a low-cost sensor network system can support real-time monitoring in extremely harsh environments.