Friday, November 08, 2013

Super Typhoon Haiyan -- Hellish, Nasty, Brutish

Haiyan is the strongest tropical cyclone to make landfall this year. It's possible that it may be the strongest recorded tropical cyclone to make landfall since we've had the data and means to track these. This storm has had a perfect symmetry and meteorological awesomeness that is hard to describe.  In the ocean, impacts are different.  When these beasts zip over a landmass, the destruction and impact on life and property is tremendous.

Haiyan is estimated to have winds as strong as 195 miles per hour when it washed ashore last night in the Philippines. To put that in perspective -- the strongest winds out of an Atlantic hurricane at landfall are currently estimated to have come from Hurricane Camille (190 mph) in 1969.

Picture of Haiyan at landfall last night. CIMSS.
As of this morning, the death toll was reported at three. That will go a lot higher, given that storm surge was in the ballpark of fifteen feet, with the town of Guiuan likely ground zero for the worst of worst from this storm as the eye came ashore very close to them. Tacloban, a city to the west and northwest of Guiuan in the Philippine island of Leyte, suffered pretty heavy damage from the storm as well. There are a few Instagram videos out there showing what Haiyan was doing to that town earlier today. Communications are down in many of these areas, which means that the final death toll and impact from this storm may not be known for a number of days.

Haiyan is now working out into the South China Sea, weakened some from its peak yesterday due to land interaction with the Philippines. It still is a pretty strong storm and will remain that way until final landfall in Vietnam in a couple of days.

More: CIMSS blog on some of the satellite imagery of Haiyan as it approached the Philippines yesterday.