‘Yolanda’ to go down in history
Mega-typhoon. Monster storm. Super typhoon. It has been called a lot of names because Yolanda, internationally called Haiyan, will definitely go down in history books.
News reports say Yolanda could possibly be the strongest typhoon in world history.
Haiyan is Chinese for “petrel,” a kind of long-winged seabird that fly far from land. As if living up to its name, the typhoon had a wide cloud cover spanning 600 kilometers, capable of blanketing the entire Visayas region and parts of Luzon and Mindanao.
Formed in a very favorable condition over the Pacific Ocean last Monday, Yolanda reached massive maximum sustained winds of 235 kilometers per hour (kph) and fierce gustiness of up to 275 kph before its landfall.
At least 48 hours before its projected landfall, it already grew into a super typhoon upon reaching 215 kph of peak wind intensity.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said Yolanda could have reached its peak strength Thursday morning but it continued to grow into a very powerful typhoon before it hit land.
Yolanda also generated storm surge up to seven meters high along the coastlines of the country.
According to Weather Channel, only three Atlantic storms had sustained winds close to Yolanda’s magnitude, namely Hurricane Camille in 1969, super typhoon Tip in 1979, and Hurricane Allen in 1980. It added that there is no Atlantic Ocean-born storm that has ever been stronger than Yolanda.
It falls under Category 5, the highest Hurricane classification in the scale.
In the Western Pacific Ocean, Yolanda would be the strongest tropical cyclone to have formed in this region in 2013, surpassing the winds of super typhoon Lekima last October of 215 kilometers per hour (kph), which was previously the strongest Pacific storm, based on Accuweather’s report.
But if compared with the official data from the PAGASA, of the 14 typhoons given the highest storm warning Signal No. 4 since 1991, three super typhoons surpassed the peak wind intensity of Yolanda — Rosing (1995) with 255 kph, Loleng (1998) with 250 kph, and Iliang (1998) with 240 kph.
Dr. Flaviana Hilario, PAGASA Deputy Administrator for Research and Development said the weather bureau included public storm warning signal (PSWS) No. 4 only in 1991. Since then, PAGASA has issued Signal No. 4 for 15 typhoons, including Yolanda.
These super typhoons are Trining (1991), Goring (1993), Rosing (1995), Iliang (1998), Loleng (1998), Harurot (2003), Igme (2004), Yoyong (2004), Paeng (2006), Queenie (2006), Reming (2010), Juan (2010), Mina (2011), Odette (2013), and Yolanda (2013).
PAGASA also documents the most destructive tropical cyclones that hit the country based on the amount of damage and number of casualties.
From 1970 to 2012, PAGASA data provided the most disastrous tropical cyclones in terms of damage to property, infrastructure, and agriculture. It also documented the most destructive tropical cyclones in terms of deaths since the 1950s.
With regard to damage to property, infrastructure, and agriculture, the most disastrous tropical cyclone in Philippine history is typhoon “Pablo” (international name “Bopha”) with a total damage worth P36.9 billion.
It ranked third in the most number of casualties with 1,067 persons. This particular typhoon, which left massive damage and deaths in Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley, occurred on December 2 to 9, 2012.
However, Signal No. 3 was the highest storm warning issued in the directly hit areas in Mindanao. It reached 175 kph of maximum sustained winds and gustiness of 210 kph.
Also notable destructive tropical cyclones are typhoon “Pepeng” (international name “Parma,” September 24 to 28, 2011), which incurred total damage of P27.3 billion, followed by typhoon “Pedring” (international name “Nesat,” June 18 to 23, 2008) with P15.55 billion worth of damage; typhoon “Frank” (international name “Fengshen,” June 18 to 23, 2008), P13.5 billion; typhoon “Juan” (international name “Megi,” October 16 to 21, 2010), P11.5 billion; tropical storm “Ondoy” (international name “Ketsana,” September 24 to 27, 2009), P10.95 billion; and typhoon “Ruping” (international name “Mike,” November 8 to 14, 1990), P10.85 billion.
As regards the highest number of deaths, these tropical cyclones are on record, tropical storm “Uring” with 5,101 (1991), tropical storm “Sendong” with 1,268 (2011), typhoon “Pablo” with 1,067 (2012), typhoon “Nitang” with 1,029 (1984), typhoon “Trix” with 995 (1952), typhoon “Amy” with 991 (1951), and typhoon “Rosing” with 936 (1995).
In addition, typhoons with the highest recorded amount of rainfall are Feria (2001) with 1,085.8 millimeters (mm); Iliang (1998), 994.6 mm; Trining (1967), 979.4 mm; Susang (1974), 781.4 mm; Trining (1991), 760 mm; and Ditang (1980), 730.3 mm. The data on highest rainfall were recorded in Baguio.