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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Jeff Masters: Haiyan is Dead, Better Weather Ahead for the Philippines; 'We Can Stop This Madness'

by Jeff Masters, wunderblog, November 12, 2013

Super Typhoon Haiyan is gone, but not before adding China to its list of ravaged nations in Asia. Haiyan made landfall on the northern Vietnam coast near the Chinese border as a Category 1 storm with 75 mph winds on Sunday, and spread torrential rains into southern China of up to 38 centimeters (15 inches) over some parts of Guangxi province, which caused up to $700 million in damage to agricultural, forestry, poultry and fishing industries there, said China National Radio. Seven people were killed in China on hard-hit Hainan Island, with three others missing. At least 13 people died and 81 were injured in Vietnam from the storm, said the Voice of Vietnam, the country's national radio broadcaster. Huge 26-foot waves from Haiyan swept 16 people out to sea in Taiwan on Sunday, killing 8 of them, the Chinese news agency Xinhua reported. The devastation wrought by Haiyan in the Philippines is among the most severe punishments ever inflicted by a tropical cyclone in modern history. With an official death toll of 1,774, Haiyan already ranks as the 3rd deadliest typhoon in Philippine history. The deadliest typhoon in Philippine history was Typhoon Thelma of 1991, which killed between 5,101-8,000 people, reports wunderground's weather historian Christopher C. Burt in his latest post on Philippines typhoon history. 

Figure 1. Col John Sanchez, Central Command, AFP took these photos from a PAF Nomad aircracft over Guiuan, E. Samar, on November 10, 2013: "Guiuan bore the brunt of Super Typhoon Yolanda at its first landfall Friday. One hundred percent of the structures either had their roofs blown away or sustained major damage. Nearly all coconut trees fell. We saw people in the streets, seemingly dazed. Trucks and cars were left in the streets where they were stopped in their tracks as Yolanda struck. We were probably the first outsiders to fly over the area since Friday and obviously, no relief goods have arrived there yet. It was almost lunchtime but there was no smoke from cooking fires. The 2.4 km runway is clear of debris and could still be used by C130 aircraft." Image credit: Col John Sanchez , Central Command, AFP.

Tropical disturbance 90W leaving the Philippines; better weather ahead
A tropical disturbance that passed over the Philippines Island of Mindanao (Invest 90W), brought heavy rains of 82 mm (3.2 inches) of rain in the 24 hours ending 8am Philippines time Tuesday (7 p.m. Monday EST) to Davao City on Mindanao. Heavy rains fell over the disaster area in the Central Philippines, as well, hampering relief efforts. However, the storm is now leaving the islands, and water vapor satellite loops show a large area of dry air to the east of the Philippines. This will bring several days of dryer weather, with only scattered afternoon thunderstorms, to the disaster zone. The GFS model is not predicting any new tropical cyclones forming in the Western Pacific over the coming seven days. The Japan Meteorological Agency is still classifying 90W as a tropical depression, but the Philippines Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) has downgraded the depression (which they called Zoraida) to a remnant low, as of 3:30 p.m. their time (2:30 a.m. EST). The disturbance still has a high chance of development into a tropical depression, according to Tuesday's 06 UTC Western Pacific Tropical Weather Discussion by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC). 

Haiyan's place in history
Haiyan hit Guiuan, on the Philippine island of Samar, at 4:40 a.m. local time November 8, 2013 (20:40 UTC November 7). 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. 

With Angela Fritz' help, I've put together a "top-ten" list of most intense world tropical cyclones at landfall, using the advisories taken from the National Hurricane Center in the Atlantic and the Joint Typhoon Warning Center in the rest of the world's oceans. Both agencies use 1-minute averaging times for their advisories, as opposed to the 10-minute averaging time used to report wind speeds by most international weather agencies and at most international airports. The list is unofficial and may have omissions; email me at if you have suggestions for improvement:

"We can stop this madness"
At the annual United Nations talks on developing a global climate treaty, currently underway in Warsaw, Poland, Naderev Saño, the chief representative of the Philippines at the conference, said on Monday: “What my country is going through as a result of this extreme climate event is madness; the climate crisis is madness. We can stop this madness right here in Warsaw.” Saño promised to undergo a hunger strike in solidarity with the storm victims until “a meaningful outcome is in sight.” 

I've blogged extensively about the links between hurricanes, typhoons, and climate change, most recently in my August 2013 post, Hurricanes and Climate Change: Huge Dangers, Huge Unknowns. Since hurricanes are heat engines that take heat energy from the oceans and convert it to the energy of their winds, rising ocean temperatures due to global warming should make the strongest storms stronger, though the poor quality and relatively short length of the global database of hurricanes and typhoons make it difficult to tell if this has already begun to occur. Hurricane scientists expect to see a 2% - 11% increase in the intensity of hurricanes and typhoons (aka tropical cyclones) by 2100. Later this week, I'll have a more detailed look at the conditions that helped fuel the incredible strength of Super Typhoon Haiyan, and discuss possible linkages to climate change.

Video 1. After Super Typhoon Haiyan ravaged the Philippines, climate change representative Yeb Sano pleaded with the world to take immediate, drastic action to reduce climate change-causing carbon dioxide emissions in an emotional speech at the UN's climate meeting in Warsaw, Poland.

The Philippine Red Cross is appealing for donations.

Portlight disaster relief charity is reaching out to disability organizations in the Philippines to provide durable medical equipment. and welcomes donations.

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