TORONTO – Super Typhoon Haiyan, one of the most powerful storms in history – is making landfall in the Philippines.
The Joint Typhoon Warning Center reported that, as of Thursday afternoon, the storm’s maximum sustained wind speed was 315 km/h with gusts near 380 km/h.
Haiyan is roughly 750 km southeast of the nation’s capital, Manila.
The storm makes for a dangerous situation for residents of the Philippines. Rainfall totals could reach 200 mm by the time it passes through and mudslides and flooding are a serious concern. On average, Toronto receives this much rain in three months.
Warmer waters are helping to further strengthen the super typhoon, called Super Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines.
Super Typhoon Haiyan is the most powerful storm to strike the Pacific this hurricane season and joins a rare few that have been as powerful.
According to the Hurricane Research Division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the most powerful tropical cyclone (hurricanes and tropical cyclones are the same) was Tropical Cyclone Olivia which struck Australia in 1996. Olivia had an almost unbelievable maximum sustained wind speed of 407 km/h. That was the most powerful winds ever recorded on Earth.
Super Typhoon Nancy which struck the Northwest Pacific in 1961 was once considered the most powerful, with winds near 343 km/h. But further research found that maximum sustained winds estimated for typhoons in the 1940s to 1960s were likely too strong and unreliable.
Haiyan is moving toward the west at 40 km/h and is producing wave heights of 15 meters.