When Taal erupted in January of 1911 the Philippines were the largest overseas colony of the United States. Residents on what was then called Bulkan ng Isla—Volcano Island—awoke to a strong earthquake on January 27… Bulkan ng Isla, wrote an observer, “was devastated, not a blade of grass escaping,” and an estimated 1200-2000 people lost their lives. As Taal quieted, a new storm over the American response brewed.
In October 1903, the Weather Forecast Company of St. Paul, Minnesota, printed a testimonial from the editor of the St. Paul Dispatch endorsing the company’s predictions as “an unqualified success” and the newspaper’s most popular feature. The Dispatch, which claimed to be the only newspaper west of the Atlantic coast to have its own commercial weather service, introduced the forecasts in 1903 especially for farmers in “the greatest crop region in the world.”