Friday, 22 November 2013

Monster typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan)

As early as Monday Novemer 4, I warned my office e-Group of two impending typhoons. The tile of my email was "in case you're wondering why it's raining - Krosa (Vinta) out, Wilma next and another one...".

I am no meteorologist (although I took a Meteorology 101 course in college). I chanced upon the warning when I was checking out the for the forecast in Japan for my upcoming trip. Senior meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski on November 3 wrote ".. another more threatening storm looks to follow this one for the middle end of next week. The nation's capital of Manila escaped being significantly impacted from Krosa, but the city may fare worse next week.... The second of the two systems will likely be the stronger of the two and ... would mean not only a return of the heavy rain, but also damaging winds."

With that post, I started monitoring the system. Two days later on November 5,  Pydnynowski called the approaching system as a 'monster typhoon' and wrote "The expected track of Haiyan will take it directly over the areas hardest hit by a powerful 7.1 magnitude earthquake that killed more than 150 people in the middle of October."

There were storm chasers already billeted in Tacloban and even CNN's Andrew Stevens was there. The last thing I saw that fateful Friday, was the report of ABS-CBN broadcast journalist on the morning show (clip below) saying that the winds were howl, visibility bad, the roads were empty and the water rising. After that, zilch! News blackout.

Monster typhoon Yolanda, packing 314 km per hour winds , is unprecedented and to date, the strongest storms ever recorded in history. In fact, the highest Philippine Public Storm Signal Warning is up to  #4 which is defined as a very intense typhoon with very strong winds of more than 185 kph may be expected in at least 12 hours. Eastern Visayan, particularly Samar and Leyte, were the hardest hit provinces, with the typhoon making its first landfall at 4 am in Guian. Note that my favorite resort in Guian was completely wiped out.  As of today, the National Risk Reduction and Management Council reported 4,000 fatalities and 1,600 missing.

Here is an eyewitness video (12:24min) taken by a storm chaser (

And here is a rare footage (1:30min) taken by a community development worker of the storm surge that destroyed the house next door in seconds:

Currently there is an outpouring of support from everyone, from all walks of life, locally and internationally -embassies, corporations, celebrities. Even my neighbors have pitched in to help. In my apartment building, there is a huge balikbayan box stationed in the lobby to drop off donations.

It's been two weeks and now the focus is how to rebuild the cities. I caught the interview of Joey Salceda on TV where the interviewer was insisting on fault finding and he said 'move on na tayo.' lets think positive.

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