Haiyan Update from Jeff Masters

November 8, 2013


Super Typhoon Haiyan has made landfall. According to PAGASA, Haiyan came ashore at 4:40 am local time (20:40 UTC) November 7, 2013 near Guiuan, on the Philippine island of Samar. Fourty minutes before landfall, Guiuanreported sustained 10-minute average winds of 96 mph, with a pressure of 977 mb. Contact has since been lost with the city. Three hours before landfall, the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) assessed Haiyan’s sustained winds at 195 mph, gusting to 235 mph, making it the 4th strongest tropical cyclone in world history. Satellite loops show that Haiyan weakened only slightly, if at all, in the two hours after JTWC’s advisory, so the super typhoon likely made landfall with winds near 195 mph. The next JTWC intensity estimate, for 00Z UTC November 8, about three hours after landfall, put the top winds at 185 mph. Averaging together these estimates gives a strength of 190 mph an hour after landfall. Thus,Haiyan had winds of 190 – 195 mph at landfall, making it the strongest tropical cyclone on record to make landfall in world history. The previous record was held by the Atlantic’s Hurricane Camille of 1969, which made landfall in Mississippi with 190 mph winds.

Officially, here are the strongest tropical cyclones in world history:

Super Typhoon Nancy (1961), 215 mph winds, 882 mb. Made landfall as a Cat 2 in Japan, killing 191 people.
Super Typhoon Violet (1961), 205 mph winds, 886 mb pressure. Made landfall in Japan as a tropical storm, killing 2 people.
Super Typhoon Ida (1958), 200 mph winds, 877 mb pressure. Made landfall as a Cat 1 in Japan, killing 1269 people.
Super Typhoon Haiyan (2013), 195 mph winds, 895 mb pressure. Made landfall in the Philippines at peak strength.
Super Typhoon Kit (1966), 195 mph winds, 880 mb. Did not make landfall.
Super Typhoon Sally (1964), 195 mph winds, 895 mb. Made landfall as a Cat 4 in the Philippines.

However, it is now recognized (Black 1992) that the maximum sustained winds estimated for typhoons during the 1940s to 1960s were too strong. The strongest reliably measured tropical cyclones were all 5 mph weaker than Haiyan, with 190 mph 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. Haiyan’s winds were estimated using only satellite images, making its intensity estimate of lower confidence. 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 18 UTC (1 pm EST) November 7, 2013. This would make Haiyan the 12th strongest tropical cyclone on record globally, as far as lowest pressure goes.

28 Responses to “Haiyan Update from Jeff Masters”

  1. omnologos Says:

    All this baseball-like obsession with records, stats and rankings is very distracting from the fact that a typhoon is destructive above a certain wind speed no matter what.

    It’s like opining how much one is dead. Once life’s gone away, there is nothing to measure. LIkewise once the destruction is total, there is no degree in the destruction.

    • What is it?

      At its essence; what is it?

      It’s heat transference; thermal energy moving from hot to cold.

      The stats and and numbers are how we quantify the extreme nature of the event.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      Sniff, sniff, he went, and “Let them eat cake”, he said, condescendingly.

      “It’s like opining how much one is dead. Once life’s gone away, there is nothing to measure. Likewise once the destruction is total, there is no degree in the destruction.”

      Perhaps the living would appreciate being able to find and bury the remains of their loved ones, as well as have some scraps of civilization remaining to begin rebuilding? And is it not worth considering the implications of the fact that the world is seeing more of these extreme events?

      Of course, O-Log, in his quest for intellectual purity, again fails to see the forest for the trees (But wait–the trees are all gone?—Oh, never mind)

      • omnologos Says:

        Dumboldguy – your irony is as usual misplaced. Ranking and stats are useless to those affected by Cat-5 events…the scale is designed so that Cat-5 means “the worst possible” and itmakes little comfort to know the winds were 205mph instead of 215mph.

        Stats are meaningful only in a statistical sense. WIll this typhoon change the recent trends in tropical cyclones numbers and strength? No it won’t.

        • stephengn1 Says:

          Strange that you would rather measurements not be spoken of during an outlier event. It is almost as if you have an agenda and would rather the world ignore superlative weather events entirely – or even deny they exist for fear that a conclusion might be reached that is unfavorable to that agenda.

          • omnologos Says:

            To clarify – I have written against overuse of and obsession with rankings. Of course actual measurements are important. As for the superlavtivenss of events, again we have to switch to long-term statistics, wrt each single cyclone changes nothing.

          • I don’t think it’s any coincidence that the most rabid deniers of climate change are also the ones who don’t want us to take measurements.

    • “It’s like opining how much one is dead. Once life’s gone away, there is nothing to measure.”
      Define “dead”. The medical profession have a large enough problem doing it, so solve that issue for them by defining dead.
      I’ll see your “how much one is dead” and raise you ‘There’s a difference between mostly dead and all dead.’ (Billy Crystal’s character in The Princess Bride movie, 1987) When it comes to declaring someone is dead , there is a reason for the phrase, ‘death by committee’. The ‘non-functioning heart-lung’ definition of death went out in the 1960s with the arrival of artificial respirators and the ethical question of performing heart transplants. The 1968 Harvard Committee’s definition of death then became ‘a permanently non-functioning brain’ (i.e. an irreversible coma), which, as far as the use of the word ‘permanently’, is fortunate for a large number of blog commenters. But this is a ‘whole’ brain definition of death which runs into problems when someone’s neurohormones are still signalling or body temperature is still being regulated even though their higher brain functions have ceased as in being in a permanent vegetative state on life support.
      So death is an extremely complicated matter, just ask someone who works in a palliative care ward at a hospital or someone who signs a Do Not Revive waiver for a relative or friend in hospital. In fact, there is no global consensus on the diagnosis of death which is a concern to anaesthetists, among other health care professionals.
      “Likewise once the destruction is total, there is no degree in the destruction.”
      “Likewise” is a poor choice of word given there’s a difference between mostly dead and totally dead.
      Define “total”. Is it nothing of the natural environment left, or nothing of the built environment left, or both, or …? For total destruction you’re getting into the realms of an inconceivable tornado with wind gusts that are very unlikely in the earth’s current weather systems. ‘As I told you, it would be absolutely, totally and in all other ways, inconceivable.’ (Wallace Shawn’s character in The Princess Bride movie, 1987)
      “there is not degree in the destruction” – Really? Has anyone pointed this out to seismologists, etc? This “no degree in the destruction” criterion renders the Mercalli Scale unnecessary for assessing the intensity of earthquakes at the earth’s surface and the Fujita Scale unnecessary for assessing the strength of tornadoes.

  2. This post is not just about numbers and stats, OL, it is about people. People who will be dying from a typhoon. And an incrementally larger number of people who will be dying because of an incremental increase in the power of this storm due to AGW.

    I understand you just don’t give a shit about people dying from AGW, even though there will be millions or even billions of them in years to come. I know this because if you really DID give a shit about these people, you wouldn’t consider it your mission in life to lie about AGW, to spread FUD about AGW, or to come here and elsewhere to disrupt the conversation with cavils and character assassinations.

    • omnologos Says:

      Roger – your comment has nothing to do with anything I have ever said, written or even thought.

      I have expressed my dislike with the rush to rank tropical cyclones, exactly because it offers the victims no useful information, and distracts the worldwide public from the fact that destruction is destruction, above a certain strength for wind and rain.

      • “What scientific comments ” said Alice to the Cheshire Cat. “A cyclone, is a cyclone”, said the cat, to Alice. “To me they are all the same above a certain level”, the cat said with an air of authority behind his bookish rims.” I don’t like to count them above a certain level or whenever I feel uncomfortable.”
        “Aw, poor kitty “said Alice, “if it hurts you, let’s ignore them. That’s enough science. You are very wise. That’s all that matters. “”That’s right said the kitty. Now I feel better.”

        • omnologos Says:

          It isn’t a fairy tale…it’s Robert Simpson’s opinion.

          If the Saffir-Simpson scale is built in a certain way, it is built in a certain way…no escaping that.

          • “It isn’t a fairy tale…it’s Robert Simpson’s opinion.”
            Are you sure? Don’t you mean Herbert Saffir? Saffir was the ‘wind speed man’ and Simpson the ‘storm surge man’.
            “If the Saffir-Simpson scale is built in a certain way, it is built in a certain way…no escaping that.”
            You’re a little out of date with the Saffir-Simpson scale which, over time, has been upgraded to the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Since, at least 2000, wind speeds alone are used to categorise hurricanes into Cat-1, etc as this is more accurate than the using the S-S scale to compare the relative strengths of hurricanes by looking at their effects on trees, buildings, flooding, power loss and reticulated water loss. In this regard it is similarly straightforward and simple as the ‘old’ Beaufort Scale for estimating wind speeds by looking at the wind’s effect on trees and open water.
            PS A nice little appeal to authority here, the S-S scale, which is ironic given your stance on mainstream climate scientists.

  3. The U.S. media doesn’t seem to give Flying F: LA Times, small blurb, “strongest typhoon this year”, NYT- zilch, nada. The BBC gives it second billing, calls it what it is, a “monster storm”, and has video in 4 links!

    These poor people just got hit with a monster storm AFTER being shook up with a killer earthquake just last month! That’s not news worthy?
    Oh, lookee, look, look! Kim Kardasian shows her ass somewhere!

  4. redskylite Says:

    “The strength of the winds associated with tropical storms is likely to increase. The amount of precipitation falling in tropical storms is also likely to increase. [5]” – http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/science/future.html on computer modelling projections.

    Bearing in mind that this site is basically defending climate science against those who deride it it is not surprising that it is drawing attention to the measurable intensity of the storm. As well as killing people the storm has wiped out crops and destroyed homes. Not sure how people deal with that in the Philippines, but in Christchurch, New Zealand many people are still dealing/fighting with insurance matters and have yet to rebuild from an Earthquake that happened nearly 3 years ago. As “knightbiologist” points out our media have got hardened off about events like this and some media is more interested in Kim Kardasian’s rear end. What is in store for low lying countries like Bangladesh and South Pacific Islands who are already feeling the effect of sea level rise ? People will lose land and homes and will need to migrate to safe areas, at a time when many countries are increasingly resistant to immigration. If it irks you that computer climate modelling projections are realistic and that the industrial practises of your very own nation are effecting the lives of fishermen and islanders in other parts of our shared planet, then there is always “climate etc” or “wattsupwiththat” to take solace in.

  5. Cy Halothrin Says:

    I am sitting here in southern Taiwan and it’s raining cats and dogs thanks to Typhoon Haiyan. Fortunately, we’re over 500 miles from the eye of the storm and we’re just catching the tail end of it. I don’t expect any deaths or damage in Taiwan, but the Philippines looks like it will devastated. Not much news yet, because communications with the central Philippines has been cut. More horrific news should be coming in the days ahead.

    In 2009, Taiwan got clobbered by Typhoon Morakot – I was here to see it. Death toll in Taiwan alone was over 700 (neighboring Philippines and Vietnam also got hit hard).

    I don’t doubt that AGW will contribute to more such disasters in the future. I wonder if we will reach the point where the typhoon season lasts all year? Currently, typhoons don’t happen in winter because the sea is too cold for that. But if the ocean warms up enough, maybe we’ll be seeing January typhoons in the northern hemisphere. I suppose if that happens, the denialist camp will come up with an alternate explanation (sunspots? volcanoes? Obamacare?).

  6. omnologos Says:

    1. I vote George Montgomery’s “quasi-dead” contribution as the most far fetched comment ever written in this blog.

    2. Mentioning the creator of a scale on the meaning of the aforementioned scale isn’t “appeal to authority” any more than asking a songwriter about the meaning of a song.

    3. Perhaps there is a space for a new scale that would replace S-S for cyclones the way the Richter scale has replaced Mercalli’s. If there is I hope somebody comes up with one soon. Previous attempts have failed.

    4. Having tropical cyclones year-round in any part of the world would be incontrovertible evidence for major climate change – at last!

    5. to jpcowdrey: measurements aren’t just taken to see if a hurricane is number 46 for winds or 12 for diameter…that’s what I meant, there is more to measurements than ranking and stats. After all if there were 10 Haiyan-type cyclones all within 10mph in max sustained wind speed from one another, nobody would care if they had the first, the fifth or the last in the ranking, as the effects would be very much the same.

    • “1. I vote George Montgomery’s “quasi-dead” contribution as the most far fetched comment ever written in this blog.”
      Scusi, I didn’t bring up the topic of “how much one is dead”. As I’ve illustrated, there are degrees to “dead” which is recognised by medical science. Hence the lack of international consensus among healthcare professionals on what defines “dead” e.g. you’re more likely to have your life-support system turned off in Italy than in Britain. This lack of consensus on what defines “dead” is in contrast to the 97% consensus on AGW.
      2. “Mentioning the creator of a scale” – the attribution of wind speeds in that scale was to the wrong person – “isn’t “appeal to authority” any more than asking a songwriter about the meaning of a song.” – there’s a difference between “asking” the creator of the scale what he means and “Mentioning” the scale in support of what you attest.
      3. “Perhaps there is a space for a new scale that would replace S-S for cyclones the way the Richter scale has replaced Mercalli’s.” The Richter scale has not replaced the Mercalli scale, both scales measure two different things (magnitude or released energy at the earthquake source within the crust and intensity of the earthquake as experienced at the earth’s surface, respectively) and both scales use different scaling (one is a base-10 logarithmic scale of seismogram amplitude and the other is, at best, an empirical scale that uses damage descriptors).
      It is correct that the Richter scale has been replaced. It was replaced at least 50 years ago by the Measured Moment Scale which is still, erroneously, called the Richter scale by the media and general public.

  7. Alteredstory Says:

    Just to check – the Huffington Post article quotes “officials” as saying it hit land at 147mph with gusts of 170. Any idea why the discrepancy?

  8. anotheralionel Says:

    Here is an interesting and illuminating comment by an anonymous at Hot Whopper.

    Consider this in the context of visual information obtained from the new NOAA View Data Imagery Portal .

    Scroll to view geographic area of interest, scroll wheel is a zoom control, then chose the select down through the data type selector at left e.g.

    Heat Content
    Energy for Hurricanes

    select periodicity

    and use the play controls as required.

    A comparison between 1993 and 2012 is striking.

  9. anotheralionel Says:

    To put the scale of the human tragedy that has unfolded on record here, from the BBC: Philippines battle to move storm aid.

    The measurement of strengths of hurricanes is useful for assessing the amount of change and the rate of change over time. Such assessments are made across many fields of science and are the basis on which we form judgements for action and further study. Thus knowing and recording the strength of a particular typhoon or hurricane is of great value and with the gathering of more such records we can see how the baselines of strength and number of events are moving. Knowing that a particular storm was the strongest yet under x, y and z provides context.

    I fail to get the logic in decrying such.

    • omnologos Says:

      I made the example of several cyclones falling within a few mph of one another…it shows how ranking is useless. Of course “knowing and recording the strength of a particular typhoon or hurricane is of great value”.

      Thus “with the gathering of more such records” we CANNOT actually “see how the baselines of strength and number of events are moving”. The baselines of strength and number are given by and visible through the strengths and numbers, not in the number of “records”.

      If you applied your logic to temperatures, you’d have to say warming is not happening just because the 1998 record hasn’t been broken yet.

  10. anotheralionel Says:

    The baselines of strength and number are given by and visible through the strengths and numbers, not in the number of “records”.

    Did I imply anything different. Go back and read my post again.

    Baselines shift all the time, in many instances, such as also with oceanic fish stocks, the common baseline of perception a century ago is very different from that of today.

    I cannot see where your beef is. Your complaint about faulty logic on my part is ironic considering the handle you chose.

    Sometimes, no often, you appear to be arguing for arguments sake.

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