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Archive for October 10th, 2009

Philippines Terminally Impacted?

Posted by feww on October 10, 2009

Our thanks to EDRO Moderators for their input and direction

Ketsana, Parma and Melor: Harbingers of Bad Times Ahead?

Did the Three Storms Spell the Beginning of the End for the Philippines as We Know it?

On September 26, 2009 FEWW called the floods caused by storm Ketsana Philippines Worst Floods in Living Memory. Soon the fool extent of the human-enhanced disaster unfolded, as Tropical Storm Ketsana poured more than a month’s worth of rain on Manila in just a few hours.

About 300 people were killed in the Philippines worst floods in living memory caused by tropical storm Ketsana on September 26, which swamped about half a million homes in the Manila and nearby regions. By mid day September 27, about 80 to 90 percent of the Philippines capital was still submerged under water.


Commuters wade through waist-deep floodwaters following heavy rains brought about by tropical storm Ketsana (locally known as Ondoy) Saturday Sept. 26, 2009 in Manila, Philippines. At least five people have been killed after nearly a month’s worth of rain fell in just six hours Saturday, triggering the worst flooding in the Philippine capital in 42 years, stranding thousands on rooftops in the city and elsewhere as Tropical Storm Ketsana slammed ashore. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez). Image may be subject to copyright.

FEWW Moderators expected Typhoon Parma to expand the destruction, and for the first time mentioned the probability of Manila collapsing.

Finally Parma Arrived!

Parma came, but for fleeting moments it looked like it could spare the Philippines main Island of Luzon. FEWW Moderators weren’t deceived, however. Driven by a more powerful storm, Typhoon Melor, which pinwheeled the by now weaker storm, ensuring that it would stay over northern Luzon for the next few days, Parma caused another round of deluge in Northern Luzon.

Could Manila Collapse?

On October 1, 2009, as Parma became a “super Typhoon, the moderators proposed:

Could Manila collapse as a result of devastation caused by the combined impact of the storms Ketsana, Parma (and  Melor, next week), as well as possible earthquakes triggered by landslides and massive mud avalanches, AND a highly probable catastrophic eruption of TAAL VOLCANO?

And suggested:

One way to find out is to wait and see! Another, is to stay tuned to FEWW forecasts and comments posted on this blog.

By Saturday October 10, 2009 at least 265 people were confirmed dead as landslides and flooding caused by Parma in the previous two days, the officials said.

Toll from heavy rain in Philippines rose further as more bodies were recovered -afp
A total of 265 people were confirmed dead in landslides and flooding caused by Parma in the past two days. Photo: AFP. Image may be subject to copyright.

This death toll from the deadly storms now stands at 611 with dozens more reported missing. Two weeks after Ketsana struck, up to 350,000 people are still packed into temporary evacuation centers. More than 3 million people have been affected.

But the Philippines worst nightmare hasn’t even started.

The specter of infectious disease outbreaks looms over the Philippines. Up to 3 million people in the country are immediately threatened by the very high risk of outbreaks of water-, sanitation-, and hygiene-related disease as well as foodborne epidemics including cholera, hepatitis A and E, typhoid fever, and shigellosis (caused by Shigella dysenteriae type 1 (Sd1), according to health officials.

The factors that are increasing health risks include:

  • Malnutrition
    • compromises natural immunity,
    • leads to more frequent occurrences of infections
    • Infections become more severe and prolonged
    • communicable diseases become more difficult to diagnose and treat
    • pose significant threat to public health
    • infants and children are particularly at risk
  • Disruption in power and fuel supplies with immediate impact on
    • drinking water
    • sanitation
    • personal hygiene
    • food production hygiene, refrigeration  and cooking facilities
  • Displaced population and overcrowding
    • overcrowding in temporary relief centers would heighten the risk of acquiring
      • acute respiratory infections (ARI)
      • measles
      • meningitis.

By end of November/early December 2009, additional exposure to disease-carrying vectors such as mosquitoes could increase the risk of

  • dengue
  • malaria

As well as rarer diseases such as

  • chikungunya
  • hantavirus
  • Japanese encephalitis

Disruption of Critical Services caused by flooding would prevent access to

  • health and social and security
  • medical, obstetric and surgical emergencies

Rainfall from Typhoon Parma

TYPH parma_trm_2009282
Typhoon Parma spent nearly a week pouring heavy rain on the northern half of the Philippine island of Luzon. This image shows both the storm’s track and the rainfall that accumulated between October 2 and October 8, 2009. The rainfall data are from the Multisatellite Precipitation Analysis, which includes rainfall observations from many satellites that are calibrated to match more detailed rainfall observations from the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite. The satellites recorded more than 700 millimeters (28 inches) of rain in places, shown in dark blue.

The heaviest rain fell on the mountain range that runs north to south along the length of the island, the Cordillera Central. Damages came from landslides on the slopes of the mountains and from floods caused by water flowing out of the mountains west to the South China Sea. The largest area of heavy rain sits over the Lingayen Gulf, the “u”-shaped body of water on the western shore of Luzon near the bottom of the image. One province in this region, Pangasinan, was between 60 and 80 percent flooded. The highest death toll came from another province, Benguet, a little north and east of Lingayen Gulf, where landslides impacted several villages.

The storm came ashore from the east and crossed the northern tip of the island on October 3, 2009. Under the influence of nearby Typhoon Melor, Parma stalled offshore, unleashing yet more rain on Luzon while spinning in place on October 4-5. Finally, the storm reversed direction and moved back across the Philippines toward Typhoon Melor on October 7. By October 8, Melor’s influence on Parma weakened, and Parma moved west again to make its third trip across Luzon Island. Many of the areas of heavy rain coincide with areas that likely saw Parma’s most intense inner bands more than once throughout the course of the week.

NASA Earth Observatory image by Jesse Allen, using near-real-time data provided courtesy of TRMM Science Data and Information System at Goddard Space Flight Center. Caption by Holli Riebeek. [Edited by FEWW]

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