National Geographic : 1900 Nov
THE MANILA OBSER VATOR Y Seven years later, when the city of Manila and the Philippine Islands in general were beginning to appreciate the utility of the ob servatory, a subscription amounting to 7,542 Mexican dollars was raised for the purpose of enlarging the observatory and endowing it with more and better instruments. This token of public favor greatly stimulated the Jesuit fathers, and more particularly Father Faura, to carry out their ambition to make the Manila Observatory, if not the very best, one of the best in the Far East. For this purpose, Father Faura visited the principal observatories of Europe. At Rome he had conferences with the famous Italian astronomer, Father Secchi; in England, at Stonyhurst Observatory, he acquainted himself with the method of maintaining a complete magnetic observatory. From thence he proceeded to Paris, where he collected all possible infor mation regarding meteorology, magnetism, and seismology. On his return to Manila, Father Faura brought new interest to the work of the observatory. Perceiving that there was some con nection between barometric oscillations and the proximity of a typhoon, he investigated the relation, and soon found this to be a fact. Thus to Father Faura belongs the honor of being the first in the Far East to predict the existence and to determine the probable path of these storms. The first typhoon warning was published July 7, 1879, stating that a storm was crossing the northern provinces of Luzon. Later advices confirmed the prediction. The typhoon had really crossed the island, and done great damage in the northern provinces of Isabela and Cagayan. On November 18 of that year the observatory announced the approach of another typhoon, and predicted its course as dangerous to the city of Manila. The fore cast caused intense excitement throughout the city, but especially in the naval department. The captain of the port, D. Alejandro Chur ruca, prohibited communication with ships in the bay and suspended all traffic. The governor-general of the islands came in person to the observatory to ascertain the truth of the prediction. The answer was that a typhoon threatened the city, and that it was imperative to prepare for emergencies. Precautions were then effectively taken in accordance with the instructions of Father Faura. The typhoon came, and, owing exclusively to the warning of Father Faura, the city was prepared, and little damage was done by the storm, but in all the other parts of the island where notice could not be transmitted for lack of telegraphic communication the havoc was terrible. Forty two shipwrecks, with great loss of life, were recorded.