Monster Typhoon Haiyan Bearing Down on Phillipines
November 7, 2013
Super Typhoon Haiyan is one of the most intense tropical cyclones in world history, with sustained winds an incredible 190 mph, gusting to 230 mph, said the Joint Typhoon Warning Center in their 15 UTC (10 am EST) November 7, 2013 advisory. Officially, the strongest tropical cyclone in world history was Super Typhoon Nancy of 1961, with sustained winds of 215 mph. However, it is now recognized (Black 1992) that the maximum sustained winds estimated for typhoons during the 1940s to 1960s were too strong. Since 1969, only three tropical cyclones have equaled Haiyan’s 190 mph sustained winds–the Western Pacific’s Super Typhoon Tip of 1979, the Atlantic’s Hurricane Camille of 1969, and the Atlantic’s Hurricane Allen of 1980. All three of these storms had a hurricane hunter aircraft inside of them to measure their top winds, but Haiyan’s winds were estimated using only satellite images, making its intensity estimate of lower confidence. Some interpretations of satellite intensity estimates suggest that there may have been two super typhoons stronger than Tip–Super Typhoon Gay of 1992, and Super Typhoon Angela of 1995. We don’t have any measurements of Haiyan’s central pressure, but it may be close to the all-time record of 870 mb set by Super Typhoon Tip. The Japan Meteorological Agency estimated Haiyan’s central pressure at 895 mb at 12 UTC (7 am EST) November 7, 2013.
Haiyan will be the third Category 5 typhoon to make landfall in the Philippines since 2010. In 2010, Super Typhoon Megipeaked at 180 mph winds just east of Luzon Island in the Philippines, and made landfall in the Philippines as a Category 5 storm. Megi’s landfall was proof that the Philippines can withstand a strike by a Category 5 storm without a catastrophe resulting, as Megi killed only 35 people, and did $276 million in damage. However, the last Category 5 storm to hit the Philippines–Super Typhoon Bopha, which hit the southern Philippine island of Mindanao on December 3, 2012–did cause a catastrophe. The typhoon left 1901 people dead, mostly on the island of Mindanao, making Bopha the 2nd deadliest typhoon in Philippine history. With damages estimated at $1.7 billion, Bopha was the costliest natural disaster in Philippines history at the time.