Thousands flee Super Typhoon Haiyan

Haiyan is most powerful storm on Earth this year

November 7, 2013

Super Typhoon Haiyan (local name Yolanda) continues to pose a serious threat to lives and property as it heads toward the Philippines.

Thousands of villagers fled as the most powerful storm on the planet this year approached the Philippines on Thursday.

Haiyan will become the fifth storm to directly affect the Philippines this year. According to Jeff masters of Weather Underground, four storms have directly impacted the Philippines killing 30 people. The strongest of these, Typhoon Utor, which had sustained winds of 140 mph, hit the Philippines August 12, 2013 and cost $25 million dollars in damage.

Haiyan had wind speeds of up to 170 mph and was rated as a category-five storm early Thursday, according to Weather Channel lead meteorologist Michael Palmer.

He warned that the storm was likely to cause widespread devastation and “a significant loss of life.”

“It’s a very poor country and there is not really any place for these people to go because they are on an island,” Palmer added. “There was a similar typhoon that struck in 1990 which killed 700 people so you are going to see that here, maybe even worse.”

The winds of Haiyan are equivalent to peak winds of the infamous Typhoon Tip, which was known for having the lowest sea-level pressure ever observed on Earth and its massive size.

The Philippines typically average eight to nine storms per year. The overall Western pacific Typhoon season has been very active, especially north of the Philippines. So far in 2013, there have been 28 named storms. The last time there was this much activity was in 2004, when there were 32 named storms. In general, the Western pacific is an area likely to spawn some of the strongest cyclones in the world.

Haiyan was moving toward the Philippines from the west in the Pacific Ocean and is expected to make landfall around noon local time on Friday (11 p.m. ET Thursday) between the central islands of Samar and Layte.

Edgardo Chatto, the governor of Bohol island province in the central Philippines, where an earthquake last month killed more than 200 people, said that soldiers, police and rescue units were helping displaced residents, including thousands still in small tents, move to shelters. The typhoon was not forecast to directly hit Bohol but the province was still expected to be battered by strong wind and rain, government forecaster Jori Loiz said.

Rain totals along the path of Haiyan could top 8 inches. Mudslides are a serious concern in the higher terrain, where localized totals of 10 to 12 inches are possible.

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