While the news outlets covered the world reaction to the Nobel Peace Prize going to President Obama, the media seems almost oblivious to the plight of the Philippines. The death toll and misery continues to rise in the wake of Typhoon Parma (Pepeng) that loitered around the nation, already reeling from the devastating flooding and nearly 300 deaths wrought by Tropical Storm Ketsana. Though you may not hear about it on cable tv or the national news in the United States, the Philippines Flooding Photo gallery says it all. This video of flooding in the Philippines from Parma was posted October 7…yet you heard nothing on the US News networks and very little in the papers.
For days, I had been saying that there was a very real possibility of this storm coming back to the Philippines after it went through the first time. For some reason, there didn’t seem to be as much concern about this than I think there should have been. Nevertheless, that is what happened and after it crossed just off the east coast and was downgraded to tropical depression, convection started to explode as it moved back to the west and extremely heavy rain fell on waterlogged parts of the northern Philippines. The result is that officials are saying that flooding in the Pangasinan Province is the worst in 50 years. Parts of the country are being called giant rivers. The death toll for the latest round of mudslides is up to 181 and will probably go higher. That is on top of the 25 lives that Typhoon Parma took during its first trip through and in addition to the deaths caused by Tropical Storm Ketsana a week before. The total deaths in the Philippines from Ketsana and Parma now stands at over 540 and the toll on the economy will be staggering. The last I saw, the UN had pledged $74 million in aid, or about one quarter of Alex Rodriguez’s contract. The US is providing aid but its going to take more and will be interesting to see how a budget strapped global economy steps up.
Just yesterday, I had posted a story in which a few people had died from a landslide, including a worker who was out cleaning up from the previous storm. I couldn’t believe it. I was wondering what they were thinking. The 7 day Philippines rain total to the left from the NASA TRMM satellite shows how much rain has fallen and they knew that flooding was a very real possibility…yet they ignored the risk as a tropical cyclone remained almost over the top of them. One spot in the Northern Philippines according to the NASA data reported 106.92mm (4.21″) of rain in the last 24 hrs, 203.37 mm (8.01″) in the past 72 hours and 399.33 mm (15.72″). That is on top of the nearly two feet they got the week before. I suspect that they got lulled into a sense of security because Parma had not dropped too much on them as it meandered across the second time and weakened. But, with an island that small, it doesn’t take much for the center to get close enough to water for the convection to explode. It did and it’s no surprise. Not saying that they could have done much but, it may have been a good idea to hold off on clean up until the danger had passed.
Now, I’ve read some stories saying that the storm “may” be moving away from the Philippines. I suspect that they put this qualifier because the “journalists” were just reading each other pronouncements of certitude based on bogus speculation. It was always a real possibility that the storm would come back. This time, it is almost impossible for this guy to come back. (Joint Typhoon Warning Center Discussion) It is offshore in the South China Sea and is moving west slowly. The speed will pick up as a ridge of high pressure in China expands and drives the storm toward Vietnam, which will probably experience flooding, though Parma’s regaining intensity will most likely not take it back to Typhoon status, but instead back to a strong tropical storm. While the environment is favorable for re-generation and Parma has amazingly maintained a good low level circulation, its probably going to hit SE Asia before it gets a chance to get all wound up again.
On This Date in History: I’m sure many people have heard of the Oregon Trail but probably aren’t familiar with where it is except Oregon. In the early 19th Century, Lewis and Clark gained the blessings and financial support (Probably Not Constitutional) of President Jefferson. That paved the way for commerce with John Jacob Astor leading the way in the American fur trade. Again, it was Thomas Jefferson who encouraged Astor, who formed the Pacific Fur Company. Astor sent a man named Wilson Price Hunt to establish a base of operations and in 1811, Hunt followed the trail of Lewis and Clark to the Dakotas and then cut over land through Jackson Hole and eventually to the mouth of the Columbia River. They called the place Fort Astor.
The War of 1812 broke out and the Crown sent a warship to seize the fort. The guys in the fort figured out that they were in trouble so, being good businessmen, they sold the town to their British competitors. The North West Company purchased the fort, renamed it Fort George and the British gained control without firing a shot and presumably John Jacob Astor got some money for his trouble.
Just before the Brits took over the fort, a group of men led by Robert Stuart left Fort Astor for St. Louis. That party in 1812 was the first follow the Oregon Trail, though they did it in reverse. About 10 years later, the Northwest Fur Company merged with the Hudson Bay Company and a hellion with the Company named Peter Skene Ogden was used as a inspector of operations in the far west. He got the position probably to keep him out of the offices because in the past, he had tried to incinerate a campanion for fun, nearly beat a company officer to death and led an entire outpost in a mutiny. Ogden ended up knowing more about the west than anyone except for mountain man Jedediah Smith. Ogden’s explorations made its way to cartographers who made maps that paved the way for settlers to emigrate west over the Oregon Trail. I suppose that Ogden Utah got its name from this rough and nasty man of the west.
So, a bunch of people went west following the Oregon Trail. One was Ezra Meeker who took his family along the trail in 1852 and moved into the Washington Territory. What makes Meeker stand out was in an attempt to keep the history of the trail alive and honor the men who blazed it, Ezra Meeker got an ox and wagon and took the trail again, stopping often to give speeches and promote its importance in history. Meeker at the time was 75 years old. It was a tough trip and the ox died, but not Meeker. So enthused with his efforts, he did it again in 1910. In 1915 he traveled the route by automobile. And on this date in 1924, Ezra Meeker once again followed the trail that he first set out on 72 years earlier. This time he was 93 years old and this time he made the 1300 mile journey like a bird. He traveled by airplane. At age 98, he attempted to travel the trail by car again with the support of Henry Ford, but he died on December 3, 1928.
Fort Astor is today known as Astoria, Oregon and was the setting for the movie Kindergarten Cop. Meeker had his last oxen team slaughtered and mounted by a taxidermist and can be found today on display, still hooked to the wagon, at the Washington State Historical Society Museum in Tacoma. A commemorative coin was struck in the 1920′s and 30′s to commemorate Meeker and the trail. In the 1980′s, a computer game company put out “The Oregon Trail” game and had a default feature that listed Ezra Meeker in 5th place on the all-time scorer list with a score of 2052. Why they picked that score is a mystery to me.
I’ll tell you what…in the dictionary under “obsession” should be a picture of Ezra Meeker.
Weather Bottom Line: A cold front will come through and leave us with a dry weekend, but it will be a cool weekend. Look for highs in the upper 50′s and low 60′s with overnight lows in the upper 30′s and low 40′s. It probably won’t be quite as cool as previous forecasts indicated as it looks like a wave will be coming out of the west which will prevent the cold air from completely spilling into the Ohio Valley and instead will bring another chance for rain early next week as another cold front comes through. Perhaps the much chillier air will spill down then. As it is, we will be cooler and fall like, and it looks like there is a pool of exceedingly cold air for the time of year just waiting for a chance to dive into the lower 48.