Surfology 101 With Chris Borg - Forecaster Blog: Super Typhoon Haiyan
Typhoons are a fact of life in the tropical northwest Pacific basin and people of the Philippines know all about them. Before last week, that island archipelago had already been hit by three typhoons and a tropical storm this year. Knowledge of such tropical cyclones can be useful for planning long-term protective measures like the placement of seawalls and designing storm resistant structures. But in real-time situations, when the onslaught of a typhoon is imminent, the only relevant information is the location of the closest place that will be safe from the cyclone’s rampage and how you can get there. If the looming typhoon is larger than the island you’re on, and that storm is one of the strongest ever recorded, then there is no safe place to go.
Super Typhoon Haiyan is not the strongest storm we’ve ever seen. A handful of other super typhoons/major hurricanes have had higher wind speeds while they were out over the ocean. But while those infamous systems all lost some intensity before reaching shore, Haiyan retained full force as it hit the Philippines and moved inland with sustained winds of 195mph. That makes Super Typhoon Haiyan the most powerful tropical cyclone ever recorded on land. It’s the force you would feel if you stuck your head out the window while driving down the freeway at three times the speed limit… during a deluge.