(Image source: NOAA)
Super typhoon Haiyan, boasting maximum sustained winds in excess of 175 miles per hour, is bearing down on the Philippines and is expected to make landfall there early Friday morning. The storm is then expected to spend the day ripping through the Pacific archipelago before exiting the region late Friday.
The storm reached category five status on Wednesday as when its wind speeds exploded from 120 mph early in the day to exceed 175 mph by around midnight. Category 5 hurricanes are the most powerful storms on Earth so interests in the Philippines should be very concerned at the approach of this deadly and dangerous storm. Officials in the US have already compared the storm to Hurricane Andrew, one of the worst storms to affect the US. But poor building practices in the Philippines will likely make structural damage impacts even more destructive along its immediate path of travel.
Current predictions show Haiyan making landfall as a 165 mph storm, spending an entire 24 hour period tracking over the Philippines and then exiting as a 145 mph storm about 50-75 miles to the south of Manila. Millions of people are in the track of this storm so any in the path of this extremely dangerous storm should take every precaution and keep in contact with news broadcasts from local emergency management officials.
The Western Pacific has boasted both record hot water temperatures and extraordinarily intense storms throughout the summer and fall of 2013. Of 4 category 5 hurricanes forming over the Earth’s oceans this year, all have formed in the Western Pacific. In total, 13 hurricanes, 30 tropical storms and 38 tropical depressions have affected this region of the world, a nearly unprecedented number. Water temperatures remained warm enough to facilitate the formation of these powerful storms throughout the year, with the first one forming on January 1rst.
Ocean water temperatures in the upper 80s F (near 30 C) and about 2 degrees above the climatological average, helped fuel the immense storm now bearing down on the region.
(Global Sea Surface Temperatures, November 5, 2013. Image Source: NOAA)
The Philippines has already been impacted by a number of storms this season. But Haiyan may prove the most devastating yet. Excessively hot water temperatures were also implicated in one of the worst heat waves to hit China in recent history during late July and early August. Extraordinarily hot surface water temperatures in the region are likely to continue to produce powerful weather systems over the coming weeks, months and years.