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A Fine Gray Rain: In the Shadow of Mount Pinatubo

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In 1991 the Philippines’ Mt. Pinatubo near Clark Air Base awoke after 500 years dormancy. Base officials evacuated non-essential personnel to Subic Bay Navy Base. Soon, the first eruption sent ash and gas towering into the sky. A climactic explosion blew the top off the mountain. Day turned into midnight as thick ash blocked the sun and pumice and rock rained down. Aircraft hangars, warehouses and buildings collapsed. Earthquakes repeatedly rattled the area. Simultaneously, typhoon Yunya blew in causing muddy lahars to flood the countryside and sweep away bridges and homes. Volcanic ash buried parts of the base. Similar devastation occurred miles away at the Navy base. Military personnel and their families departed the devastated island via ships. However, some remained to conduct salvage operations before relinquishing the base. It was the 2nd largest volcanic eruption of the century. This is the exhilarating story leading up to this catastrophic event.

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