What A Major Tropical Cyclone Looks Like

Update, April 10, 2015: Researchers at Japan’s International Research Institute of Disaster Science just released a paper (PDF) about Haiyan, its effects and their correlation with satellite images of the destruction. Over a thousand people are still missing.

Update, January 28, 2014, 3:22 p.m.:Philippine Coconut Farmers Struggling to Recover From Typhoon.

Also, according to another official Philippines situation report (PDF), as of January 14th the death toll remained 6201 and missing 1764, but injured rose to 28,626. Here is the main situation report page.



Update, January 19, 2014, 1:15 p.m. Eastern: Per the official list of casualties from Haiyan/Yolanda (sadly, this Philippine government website has a DDOS screen in place), 6,201 people are known to be dead, 1785 are still missing, and 27,665 people were injured. Per this European aid site (PDF), up to 4 million people were displaced.

The supertyphoon had a massive economic impact on the Philippines that was felt by everybody. The overall economic loss caused by Haiyan/Yolanda, per German insurance industry giant Munich Re (h/t to the Manila Times), “totalled some US$ 10bn, equivalent to around 5% of the Philippinesʼ annual economic output.”


Update, December 26, 2013, 10:13 a.m. Eastern:Typhoon Haiyan: an aid worker’s diary of a disaster.” (The Guardian)

Why do the media always just show one drastic side of the story? Filipinos encounter disasters every year: typhoons, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes. The people here deserve better – they are strong and they are doing their best to get back on their feet.


Update, December 14, 12:16 p.m. Eastern: Per this story, the toll is now 6009 dead, 1779 missing and more than 4 million people without homes.


Update, November 30, 11:19 p.m. Eastern: From this Philippine news story:

THE official death toll from monster typhoon Yolanda last November 8 rose to 5,632 yesterday, with nearly 2,000 recorded as missing and feared dead.

In its 6 a.m. update, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council listed the number of missing at 1,759 with 26,136 others injured.

Most of the fatalities came from Eastern Visayas at 5,289: 4,795 in Leyte; 265 in Eastern Samar; 224 in Samar; and 5 in Biliran.

Of the 1,759 missing, the NDRRMC said 1,688 were from Leyte; 38 from Samar; 20 from Eastern Samar; 16 from Antique; 6 from Palawan; 5 from Cebu; 4 from Iloilo; and 1 each from Guimaras and Capiz.

The NDRRMC update said nearly 11 million people living in 12,014 barangays in Visayas region were affected by “Yolanda,” considered as the deadliest typhoon recorded so far.

Higher, but the counts seem to be closing in on an accurate general range. I am guessing that at least some of the missing may never be found as they were swept out to sea or buried in landslides.

A horrible tragedy.


Update, November 27, 12:05 p.m. Eastern: The latest figures, per this news story and also this Relief Web update:

Official death toll: 5500 (expected to rise)
Missing: 1,757
Injured: Nearly 26,000.
Displaced: 3.54 million, with 226,000 of them still living in 1,068 evacuation centers.


Update, November 22, 11:10 a.m. Eastern: Things are settling down some, and more accurate casualty estimates are available. According to NBC News this morning, the death toll has passed 5200, with 1611 people reported missing and at least 23,000 injured.


Update, November 10, 10:07 a.m. Eastern:

Bad news

It has taken three days for the bad news to get out – that’s how badly Yolanda/Haiyan messed up the Philippines’ infrastructure.

Arava u ryes a abu su vinyedi.
There is no current that does not bounce back.

Update, November 7, 8:31 a.m. Eastern: Surprisingly positive situation report (PDF) from the Philippines goverment, all things considered, from within the last couple of hours. Meanwhile, the rest of the world’s media suddenly has suddenly woken up to the fact that this happened. Just another example that when disaster looms, experts and the appropriate governmental agencies are much more useful than the news. It shouldn’t be that way, but it is and probably always will be.

Update, November 7, 9:18 p.m. 8, around 6 a.m. Eastern: Per the JTWC, Haiyan/Yolanda is now over the Philippine Island of Panay and still strong, with 166-mph sustained winds, though it has weakened – sort of – down to what would be called a low-end Category 5 in the Atlantic Basin, rather than an OMG Apocalyptic Nightmare:

JTWC graphic

It’s now forecast to cross the South China Sea and hit Vietnam just south of Hue, but it will be much weaker, the equivalent of a low-end Category 2 per the current forecast.

It sure didn’t weaken much after first hitting the Philippines, as this microwave loop shows:


MIMIC – click image to get it moving

Update, November 7, 9:18 p.m. Eastern: Per the Joint Typhoon Warning Center bulletin issued at around 7 p.m. Eastern – about a half hour after the image below was taken, with the eye crossing the coast – Haiyan/Yolanda’s sustained wind speed (near the eye) was 184 mph with gusts to 224 mph. I haven’t checked news reports of damage – there probably aren’t any just yet. Tomorrow is going to be tough, I suspect.



Update, November 7, 1541 Eastern: Just found this live coverage of landfall from Down Under, in English – not familiar with the poster, WestPacWx, but he seems to know what he’s talking about:

Update, November 7, 1106 Eastern: Found the PAGASA surge prediction page (PDF). Highest surge is 5.3 m (17.4 feet) at Matarinao Bay in Eastern Samar Province. See also their NOAH Google-Maps-based page, though it’s loading slowly right now.

Update, November 7, 0947 Eastern: Special note: In the Philippines, PAGASA calls this Yolanda. In the Western media, at least, it seems most popularly known as Haiyan.

Per the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, current sustained wind speed is almost 200 mph, gust to around 230 mph.

For comparison, the winds in Jupiter’s Red Spot are at least 270 mph, so Earth is at least competitive, it seems – not good news for humanity in general or the Philippines right now.

Look at that thing…just look at that thing!

Here’s the Funktop view currently – note the white interspersed with green, even over the islands – that is the highest level. The rainfall in this will probably be measured in feet…and the eyewall (area of highest sustained windspeed) is approaching the Philippines now (actually, the eyewall is still quite a ways out to sea).



Also, I’ve never seen anything this symmetrical before (granted, I am a rank amateur, but still). It almost looks like an annular TC plus outflow, if such a thing is possible. In any event , it’s certainly not undergoing an eyewall replacement cycle, which is also a characteristic of annular storms. Such a cycle would be the only thing that might weaken this a little before it hits.

The Philippines will be raked by this one. Sigh.

It has been so incredibly slow in the Atlantic this hurricane season, when I came across GOES imagery of Super Typhoon Haiyan, which is now threatening the Philippines, it took my breath away.

If this were in the Atlantic Ocean basin, it would be a category 5. Here are some current satellite images on different channels (“eyes,” if you will).  You can click each image to enlarge it.

Visible (see the big Philippines there in the upper left, and the small island of Palau to the lower right?):

Winds:  175 mph.  Pressure, possibly 956 mb, per Jeff Masters.

Winds: 175 mph. Pressure, possibly 956 mb, per Jeff Masters.

Water vapor:



Funktop: (This imagery shows where the rain is falling; winds of 175 mph are bad enough, but this cyclone has LOTS of rain, too, so the northern Philippines are really going to get hammered – in fact it looks like they already are.)

Green is close to the top end of the Funktop scale.

Green is close to the top end of the Funktop scale.

Tropical cyclones like these are awesome – I feel the same way toward them that I do toward something like Everest in terms of geology or Mauna Loa in terms of volcanoes – but I can’t admire them when they are close to land. This is major disaster looming for the Philippines.

Yeah, guess I’m really grateful after all that it has been such a quiet Atlantic season.

Categories: Random thoughts, Weather

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