Deconstructing the hype on Super Typhoon Haiyan – Yolanda

Guest essay by Paul Homewood

With special thanks to John Fuller and Agar012 (and Dr. Ryan Maue for review)

Now we have had a few days to reflect on the terrible events of last week, we can start to piece together some of the facts.

First of all, as it is the thing that really matters above all, fatalities. The good news, if it can be termed that, is that the death toll is likely to be around 2000 to 2500, according to the Philippine President. This is much less than the 10,000 originally feared to have died.

As far as the storm itself was concerned, the official statistics from the Philippine Met Agency, PAGASA, remain the same as those issued at the time. The table below compares these with the original satellite estimates put out by the Joint Typhoon Warning Centre, JTWC, and that were subsequently used by the media around the world to claim that Yolanda was the “strongest storm ever”.

Sustained Wind Speed mph 147 195
Gust mph 171 235

As far as sustained wind speeds are concerned, the PAGASA numbers are based on 10-minute averages, whilst the JTWC are on 1-minute averages, so the latter are always likely to be higher. Is it possible then to draw any conclusions?

According to NOAA NHC hurricane expert, Chris Landsea

“One complication with the use of the 1 min averaging time for the standard for sustained wind in the Atlantic and Northeast Pacific tropical cyclone basins (where the United States has the official World Meteorological Organization tropical cyclone advisory responsibilities) is that in most of the rest of the world, a 10 min averaging time is utilized for “sustained wind”. While one can utilize a simple ratio to convert from peak 10 min wind to peak 1 min wind (roughly 12% higher for the latter), such systematic differences to make interbasin comparison of tropical cyclones around the world problematic. “

So on this rule of thumb,adding 12% to the PAGASA number would increase it to 164 mph, on 1-minute averages.

Jeff Masters also mentions  that other studies suggest a ratio of 1.14, which would give a figure of 167 mph. He also points out that the Japanese Meteorological Agency estimate 145 mph, using satellite based 10-minute averages, therefore backing up the PAGASA version.

There is still, therefore, a big gap between JTWC and the others. A clue to this difference is given by Masters:

Haiyan’s strongest winds occurred on the south shore of Samar Island and the city of Guiuan (population 47,000), where the super typhoon initially made landfall with 1-minute average winds estimated at 195 mph. This estimate came from the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, and was based on satellite measurements. We have no ground level or hurricane hunter measurements to verify this estimate. Typhoon and hurricane maximum wind speed estimates are only valid for over water exposure, and winds over land are typically reduced by about 15%, due to friction. This would put Haiyan’s winds at 165 mph over land areas on the south shore of Samar Island.

So how does all this compare with earlier hurricanes and is there any justification for the “strongest ever” claims.

Hurricane Camille in 1969 is generally accepted as the strongest in recent decades. NOAA describe the wind speeds:

The actual maximum sustained winds will never be known, as the hurricane destroyed all the wind-recording instruments in the landfall area. The estimates at the coast are near 200 mph.

The “Atlantic Hurricane Season of 1969”, published at the time offers more detail:



Note that 180 knots = 207 mph, and 175 knots = 202 mph.

Quite simply Yolanda and Camille cannot be seriously compared with each other.

It is probably also worth taking note of these two statements.

Mr. Paciente  [a forecaster with the Philippine government’s national weather agency] stated:

Before the typhoon made landfall, some international forecasters were estimating wind speeds at 195 m.p.h., which would have meant the storm would hit with winds among the strongest recorded. But local forecasters later disputed those estimates. “Some of the reports of wind speeds were exaggerated,”

The Philippine weather agency measured winds on the eastern edge of the country at about 150 m.p.h., he said, with some tracking stations recording speeds as low as 100 m.p.h.

Roger Edson, the science and operations officer at the United States National Weather Service in Guam said

195 m.p.h. winds would put the storm “off the charts,” but he acknowledged that satellite estimates require further study on the ground to determine if they were accurate.

Wind Gusts

As well as the discrepancies in sustained wind speed, there is also a big gap in the claimed top gusts. Chris Landsea also has a useful rule of thumb:

Gusts are a few seconds (3-5 s) wind peak. Typically in a hurricane environment, the value of the maximum 3 second gust over a 1 minute period is on the order of 1.3 times (or 30% higher than) than the 1 min sustained wind.

So, assuming 164 mph sustained winds, we would expect gusts of 213 mph. Whereas JTWC estimated 235 mph, the figure officially recorded by PAGASA was only 171 mph, which suggests the sustained speeds may have been slightly lower than we have assumed.

Atmospheric Pressure

The atmospheric pressure of Yolanda was 895 hPa. Within just the Western Pacific Basin, there have been 20 storms with lower pressure since these figures began to be reliably collected about 60 years ago. The lowest pressure recorded was 870 hPa, with Typhoon Tip in 1979.

Together with ties, typhoons with Yolanda’s atmospheric pressure or less can be expected every couple of years in the Western Pacific. Fortunately the vast majority of these never see land, or do so only after significant weakening.

Storm Surge

Both CNN and the BBC talk about 40 to 50 feet storm surges , yet the official Philippine body responsible for these matters, NOAH, using JMA models, on 7th November forecast about 5 meters or less for the day after when the storm hit land.

Once again, it appears that some media reports have been wildly overhyped.


Historical Trends

PAGASA show a couple of graphs plotting the number of tropical cyclones from 1948 to 2004. There seems to be little in the way of trends either way.

TC Graph


There is a fear that although typhoons are not becoming more frequent, they may be getting more intense. However, given the lack of accurate data from even just a few decades ago, it is difficult to see how any real conclusions can be made.


It seems reasonable to conclude that Yolanda was a Category 5 storm, i.e. that 1-minute wind speeds were at least 157 mph. However, it was clearly a much less powerful storm than Camille, and arguably many others in recent history.

It is, fortunately, a rare occurrence for storms of Yolanda’s strength to cross land, but sometimes it does happen.

The sensationalist and over-hyped reporting of much of the media immediately after the tragedy was, in my view, utterly disgraceful.  Perhaps in future, they might care to check the facts first.

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David L. Hagen
November 13, 2013 12:23 pm
November 13, 2013 12:33 pm

Well done Paul. There appears to be a typo in the following setence: “Together with ties, typhoons with Yolanda’s atmospheric pressure or less can be expected every couple of years in the Western Pacific.”

November 13, 2013 12:34 pm

… and (well known alarmist) German TV RTL2 reported in a special broadcast about the catastrophe of wind speeds at 385 km/h.

November 13, 2013 12:40 pm

Remembering Katrina
“A week after the storm, a definitive death toll remained elusive. New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin warned on NBC’s “Today” that “it wouldn’t be unreasonable to have 10,000″ dead.”
“George Bush arrived last night in the ravaged Gulf coast region amid mounting criticism of his handling of the crisis and a prediction by one senator that the death toll in Louisiana alone could top 10,000 people.”

November 13, 2013 12:50 pm

Whatever the wind speed, and believe the BBC at your own risk, there has been a lot of destruction in the Visayas region.
Do try to be charitable, and send money to the Philippines, via a charity that will pass on >85% of the money raised.
Not the only one, by any means, but you could perhaps look at

Richard LH
November 13, 2013 12:52 pm

Latest maps/reports from The BBC seem to differ from the earlier BBC reports.
This will continue to be an evolving story with later ‘facts’ different from previous ones I suspect.
Little comfort to those on the ground in either case,

November 13, 2013 1:03 pm

“The good news, if it can be termed that, is that the death toll is likely to be around 2000 to 2500, according to the Philippine President. This is much less than the 10,000 originally feared to have died.”
Sensitively and respectfully expressed. But I don’t mind being more blunt. Anthony went out on a limb regarding fatalities and has been shown to be correct. Meanwhile, I’m not seeing much in the MSM about the good news, that the initial estimate was far too high…
Of course the number remains tragic. One death is too many. That goes without saying, but these days you have to stay one step ahead of the piety mongers..

November 13, 2013 1:08 pm

OP — “As far as sustained wind speeds are concerned, the PAGASA numbers are based on 10-minute averages, whilst the JTWC are on 1-minute averages, so the latter are always likely to be higher. Is it possible then to draw any conclusions?”
Without knowing anything but common behaviour. I’ll go on a limb and state that the 10-minute thing is how it’s been done by PAGASA for ages. And that it used to be a gold-standard for measuring wind speeds in such conditions generally around the US. Likely, world wide.
Why? Because a 1 minute sustained average will be higher speeds since it’s more gusty. And by gum, we have a narrative to narrate. And for another crystal ball, I imagine it came about sometime in… let’s say the late 90s. Be interesting to see how much correctness and error is in that. But I’m not wed to any of it and could hardly care to inform myself. As if I’m wrong it doesn’t matter, if I’m right I’d rather not be rewarded for being jaded.

November 13, 2013 1:18 pm

It doesn’t matter. They don’t care. First impressions are lasting impressions.
This will go down in modern folklore as the strongest typhoon in history and Al Gore and his minions will play it up to the adoring and gullible multitudes.
In the end, that is all that matters

November 13, 2013 1:23 pm

Oh Paul you beat me to it I also spent afternoon trying to get to the bottom of wild 235mph claims.. how can anyone not be suspicious of that number from the beginning. Here are my notes on Haiyan windspeed ..It seems there is no official record, no one had instrument measurements. Guesses were made and that it was towards the high end..still can’t find confirmation of where the 235miles per hour number came from. We got it from Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) said Guardian but it seems that data is not visible now on JTWC page.
The PAGASA pages archived on WUWT say 235kph
I find 2 scientific sources
From NASA : Assessing Haiyan’s Winds
Their Scatterometer radar said 206Kmh but it doesn’t catch the top speed so they estimate 240Kmh

According to the Oceansat-2 data, which was processed by scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) using an experimental technique, the storm’s winds peaked at 206 kilometers (128 miles) per hour at the time of measurement—strong enough to devastate the landscape.

“The bottom line is that meteorologists are going to be debating what Haiyan’s top wind speeds were for some time,” said Jeffrey Halverson, a meteorologist at the University of Maryland at Baltimore County. “The best we can do is point to the strengths and shortcomings of each piece of technology or technique that we use to estimate winds—be it Dvorak, a scatterometer, or a barometer. Since we lack reliable in situ measurement for Haiyan, we have to use wide error bars.”

– (There maybe also question of what defines landfall ..the first rock, little island or the actual mainland)
UK Met Office blog

At the time of landfall the estimated central pressure of the typhoon was 895 mb and sustained winds averaged over one minute estimated at 195 mph with higher gusts. These estimates are based on well attested satellite techniques, but without observations exactly in the path of the eye of the typhoon it is impossible to confirm their accuracy. However, this is likely to make Haiyan one of the most intense tropical cyclones to make landfall in history. then went on to discuss others with lower pressure & higher speeds

PAGASA-DOST ‏@dost_pagasa 7 Nov
Hourly Update: #YolandaPH (5AM November 8, 2013)
Typhoon “YOLANDA” has made landfall over Guiuan, Eastern Samar (4:40AM)

from PAGASAs Facebook 2nd landfall 235kph 275kph gusts
Good map of the track
Daily Forecast 52Km before FIRST landfall 235kph 275kph gusts

November 13, 2013 1:29 pm

Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite in the Washington Post is angry with Roger Pielke Jr & has invoked the Fallacy of appeal to the ultimate AUTHORITY
(She is a former president of Chicago Theological Seminary (1998-2008) and a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress.)

Bill Marsh
November 13, 2013 1:40 pm

And far fewer casualties than Mr ‘Tens of Thousands’ Landen seems to have been hoping for.

November 13, 2013 1:42 pm

By sheer coincidence The Center for American Progress have a new campaign Storm-Ready Cities “How Climate Resilience Boosts Metro Areas and the Economy”

Gunga Din
November 13, 2013 1:59 pm

stewgreen says:
November 13, 2013 at 1:29 pm
Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite in the Washington Post is angry with Roger Pielke Jr & has invoked the Fallacy of appeal to the ultimate AUTHORITY
(She is a former president of Chicago Theological Seminary (1998-2008) and a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress.)

I’ve said before that people have done many thing “in the name of God” without first bothering to find out what it was God wanted done.
Now we have a “theologian” invoking the name of God to support her own agenda.
(If I’m not mistaken, didn’t one of the 10 Commandments say something about taking the name of the Lord thy God vain?)

November 13, 2013 2:01 pm

Wikipedia update: They are now reporting it as “second-deadliest Philippine typhoon on record”. That is a huge step back from yesterday when they reported it as the strongest in history.

November 13, 2013 2:01 pm

Being a hurricane survivor and growing up on the Gulf Coast, one must realize that many of the “short” measurements capture the “vortexes” that form a few miles inland as the steady state wind “tumbles” and you get a tornado-like vortex.
I have personally witnessed winds much higher than the steady state, official velocites, and have a crushed car and a tree thru my roof to prove it. One was a cat 3 – 4, the other a cat 2. You could hear the vortex coming down the street, and then BAM!! Tree thru the roof.
During Katrina, my folks had about 8 large trees come down on their roof (total was eighteen 50 – 60 foot pines and pecan trees), yet a mile away you would not see much damage at all. Witnesses claimed about 3 or 4 “vortexes” came thru their area. And they and my folks remembered their ears popping due to the pressure changes.
Then there’s storm surge, and the Louisiana/ Mississippi coast folks have seen two of the highest in recent times – Camille and Katrina. I drove over 10 miles along the MS coast a few months after Katrina and virtually everything within a quarter mile of the water was gone. After Camille, the same area was toothpicks, but it had higher winds. For both of those we’re talking 25 – 30 foot surges with waves on top of that!
Hope the caualty number stays low, and we have mucho help there and on the way courtesy of the United States Navy.

November 13, 2013 2:03 pm

Can winds speed be estimated by the % of palm trees still standing. Some of the video I saw still had 30-50% of the palm trees still standing, most had some leaves still attached. Don’t know what region the video was recorded.

November 13, 2013 2:03 pm

Regarding hype: Maybe call Haiyan overstatements a Hyphoon.

Mike Maguire
November 13, 2013 2:12 pm

Just another case of correcting a very large, unsubstantiated report(exaggeration), using honestly presented evidence, only to be accused of being cold, heartless and unsympathetic to the victims because of practicing authentic science.
Does pumping up the level of intensity of a storm help the victims? If anything, it has the potential to do the opposite in a future world.
Using accurate measurements/data is a key factor in gaining the most comprehensive understanding. This is paramount in order to have more skill predicting these type of storms………………….and that is vital in making decisions on the best actions to provide safety for humans in the path of a similar cyclone in the future.

Mike Jowsey
November 13, 2013 2:17 pm

Typhoon Haiyan: Before and after
Aerial images taken over the Philippines reveal the scale of devastation Typhoon Haiyan has caused in the once-vibrant coastal city of Tacloban.

Gail Combs
November 13, 2013 2:30 pm

Auto says:…
The Salvation Army is donating 100% of the funds donated for Typhoon Haiyan Relief Efforts according to Huffington Pos (includes list of others):

See - owe to Rich
November 13, 2013 2:36 pm

Paul, this is good work, so please could you try editing the Wikipedia page on it, sensitively, to put in the PAGASA page? My son was looking there and reading that it was “unofficially the strongest storm ever to make landfall”.
Thanks, Rich.

Reg. Blank
November 13, 2013 2:38 pm

So what kind of person is it that wanted this storm to be the “biggest ever”? To have felt some kind of delightful horror at the prospect of many thousands of people being sacrificed, as a sign from their green idol, to teach the blasphemers a lesson?
It certainly taught me something that I already knew. Certainly not something they would like.
Reality must be so disappointing for them.

November 13, 2013 2:40 pm

Jeff in Calgary Wikipedia update: They are now reporting it as “second-deadliest Philippine typhoon on record”. That is a huge step back from yesterday when they reported it as the strongest in history.

Technically the 2 things don’t contradict each other
– Now that you brought up Wikipedia, an interesting thing : The references on that page are so often crap. Mostly it’s refs are a newspaper like the Guardian etc. No that’s just not good enough cos when you go to the newspaper ref, it’s source is another newspaper etc.
– But not only is Wikipedia flakey the whole media chain is weak How can people just write 235mph without double checking ? How can they not explain the weak provenance of the numbers that they are giving out, and explain they are educated guesses etc. But that’s the whole weakness of the house of cards of climate panic. Things lots of media assert to be certain turn out to be very flakey when you do a small amount of digging.
– I suggest you click TALK on that page to see the arguments between editors

David Riser
November 13, 2013 2:50 pm

Good write up. Hopefully the Philippine government will build more shelters or reinforce those buildings used as shelters. This kind of damage is a fairly regular occurrence in that area.

Gail Combs
November 13, 2013 2:50 pm

Gunga Din says:
stewgreen says:
…. From the comments at Washington Post her article is going over like a lead balloon. At least she got the wind speeds correct. (Nod to Anthony, Dr. Ryan Maue and the rest who insisted on verifying the facts, looks like it is working.)

Gail Combs
November 13, 2013 2:57 pm

stewgreen says: @ November 13, 2013 at 2:40 pm
…But not only is Wikipedia flakey the whole media chain is weak How can people just write 235mph without double checking ?
Easy. The only time accuracy matters in the news is with sports scores. My Father-in-law who owned a small town news paper, wrote a story while his son doing his homework sat next to him at the same table. The story was about his son wining the science fair. Even with the source sitting next to him he STILL got the facts wrong.
Accuracy what accuracy? The only thing that matters is going to press on time and selling papers.

Owen in GA
November 13, 2013 3:06 pm

tmitsss says:
November 13, 2013 at 12:40 pm
Remembering Katrina

What exactly is the point of this comment? One source was the incompetent Ray Nagin and the other The Guardian who never met a capitalist they could tolerate. The final death toll for the entire span of Katrina was less than 2,000 according to the sources I can find, and most of those were due to the flooding in New Orleans caused by the collapse of the levies which was in turn caused by the corruption endemic to the political boards responsible for their upkeep and maintenance. Large cyclones, including those that weaken before landfall should be respected, especially if your house is less than 50ft above sea level. Storm surge of a former CAT5 that weakens to CAT3,2,1 just before landfall is nearly that of the CAT5 it was due to momentum.

November 13, 2013 3:19 pm

Records are never broken. Guinness book of Records 2013 edition out in your local area. What a load of tosh. Just to the south west of the Philippines we have this news report.

Storm cycles in the last millennium recorded in Yongshu Reef, southern South China Sea
………U-series dating of the storm-relocated blocks as well as of in situ reef flat corals suggests that, during the last 1000 years, at least six strong storms occurred in 1064±30, 1210±5–1201±4, 1336±9, 1443±9, 1685±8–1680±6, 1872±15 AD, respectively, with an average 160-year cycle (110–240 years). The last storm, which occurred in 1872±15 AD, also led to mortality of the reef flat corals dated at ∼130 years ago……

This cyclone is no record breaker, not even close. It’s sad that I should be pushed into producing death records, and I won’t. This cyclone does not enter there.
In the meantime the low landfall hurricanes and low tornado count in the USA has been blamed on global warming. We must act then!

November 13, 2013 3:30 pm

No one knows the wind speeds yet. Anemometers in the path of the storm might be designed to measure speeds of the required intensity, but few if any succeed in doing so. During Cyclone Yasi, the device at Willis Island packed up. As far as I recall, the other stations in the region were shut down, eg Townsville Aero was “off” for two days, no record of anything. My estimate at my place was 200km/hr based on degree of deflection of the N4 window glass. Best estimates come from structural engineering calculations based on what happened to traffic signs and their equivalent. That takes longer. Palm trees are no indication. Even shallow-rooted coconut palms will survive if their root mass is among rocks. Radar scatter might give a rough indication I guess. If there was a barograph record that survived at the airport that could produce a ball-park figure.

November 13, 2013 3:40 pm

Nice Job Paul!
It is a shame people like Masters get more credibility than they deserve.
There is no way that storm produced 195 mph wind speeds at the surface with that pressure (895 Mb). I would even ask if the pressure was estimated?
To embellish disaster like these people did, for a false cause like CAGW, should be a crime!
I would even suggest that those who were negatively impacted by this propaganda file suit!
Pitiful really!

November 13, 2013 3:46 pm

Don’t worry about the dead. Worry about the survivers. They must be going through the hell right now. Let’s keep helping.

November 13, 2013 3:54 pm

ABC’s talks to WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud who we are told “balks” at making Haiyan/Yolands CAGW connections but he goes on to make them; & Jerry Velasquez, UN’s Office for Disaster Risk Reduction who says once in a lifetime typhoons are now once a year, kyoto expiring & this will provide an opportunity to re-think the framework & how we do disaster risk management:
14 Nov: ABC AM: Climate change worsening severe storm impact: UN
LINK: Read the WMO Provisional Statement on Status of the Climate in 2013 (hottest, strongest, widest, etc)
yet, on 11 Nov, in Deutsche Welle, Velasquez doesn’t even mention CAGW or any Climate Change connection – in fact, the word “climate” is not even in the DW piece:
11 Nov: Deutsche Welle: Natural disasters threaten Philippine growth
Every year, 20 typhoons hit the Philippines, a country also threatened by earthquakes and volcanos. These natural disasters have grave economic consequences
The direct costs resulting from natural disasters lower annual gross domestic product by 0.8 percent, Jerry Velasquez, coordinator for the Asia-Pacific region of the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR), told Deutsche Welle…
Economic growth of almost 7 percent is based on the rapid growth of the productive population. At the same time, the population is increasingly in danger “because people are willing to accept risk for short-term profits,” Velasquez says. Industries choose production sites on rivers and in coastal regions, and workers follow suit. As a result, more people are affected by storms and floods. The infrastructure and industrial facilities in emerging countries are also more easily damaged, says the UN report, due to weaker building structures and materials…
however, Jarraud on the 13th in Deutsche Welle:
13 Nov: Deutsche Welle: UN report delivered in Warsaw foresees weakened defenses for future Haiyans
One tidal gauge at Legaspi in the Philippines showed a rise of 35 centimeters (14 inches) in average sea levels from 1950 to 2010, against a global average of 10 centimeters. The current average rise doubles the 20th-century trend of 1.6 millimeters (0.06 inches) per year.
“The risk is getting much, much higher, and vulnerability is getting higher,” Jarraud said…

November 13, 2013 4:23 pm

Homewood said in an earlier post:
Terrible though this storm was, it only ranks as a Category 4 storm
Now he is saying:
It seems reasonable to conclude that Yolanda was a Category 5 storm
Wonder what else he’s gone and got wrong!

Gunga Din
November 13, 2013 4:24 pm

Gail Combs:
Thank you, Gail.
I take God and the Bible seriously.
I scanned some of the comments. Nice to know she isn’t being taken seriously.

November 13, 2013 4:24 pm

The question that no one has asked is why do the Philippine Government allow such poor standards of building, the destruction of which caused the deaths of so many people ?

November 13, 2013 5:14 pm

The UN won’t give up though…
Michel Jarraud has inside information.
It seems that tropical storms are now worse because of rising sea levels !!!
There are many reasons why apparent sea levels rise, a major one being.tectonic subsidence. And a lot of that goes on around the Philippines.
Presumably Mr Jarraud missed his geology classes.

Col A
November 13, 2013 5:22 pm

Anthony, please put the RED CROSS donation link up on each post relating to this disaster.
and Paul,
Thanks for clarifying terminology and measurement methods / systems.
Our BoM has this page and I found this, others may find it interesting. – I suspect their numbers reflect wind “gusts”.

November 13, 2013 5:30 pm

What of the effect of the forward velocity of the storm on the rotational velocity of the wind? Different storms advance at different rates.

November 13, 2013 5:53 pm

No doubt Al Gore will have us buying up solar panels and windmills a plenty leaving no investment capital to build, oh say… Storm shelters.and sea-walls
Recently ex climate commissioner Steffen here in Oz was saying that we would be sitting in the 2nd floor lounge of the Brisbane airport overlooking the marine vista as Brisbane airport flooded – to which I commented, apparently the engineering challenged Will Steffen hasn’t learned yet that we engineers have useful tools called landfill, and sea walls – should we ever need them of course.
Everything that’s wrong with the climate gravy train right there – money is being wasted on the WRONG THINGS. Windmills are no good for managing climate change unless they are being used to pump out water from reclaimed land – a proven practical use.

Grey Lensman
November 13, 2013 6:27 pm

Has anybody picked up the phone and asked JTWC, what exactly their report was and how it changed?
People with ZERO build with what they can get, not regulations.

Gary Hladik
November 13, 2013 7:27 pm

tmitsss says (November 13, 2013 at 12:40 pm): “Remembering Katrina”
Ever since Katrina, whenever a weather event is overhyped (“Warmest year EVAH!”; “Superstorm” Sandy; “Supertyphoon” Haiyan), I think back to “South Park” episode “Two Days Before the Day After Tomorrow”:
Reporter: Tom, I’m currently 10 miles outside of Beaverton, unable to get inside the town proper. We do not have any reports of fatalities yet, but we believe that the death toll may be in the hundreds of millions. Beaverton has only a population of about eight thousand, Tom, so this would be quite devastating.
Anchor: Any word on how the survivors in the town are doing, Mitch?
Reporter: We’re not sure what exactly is going on inside the town of Beaverton, Tom, but we’re reporting that there’s looting, raping, and yes, even acts of cannibalism.
Anchor: My God, you–you’ve actually seen people looting, raping, and eating each other?
Reporter: No, no, we haven’t actually seen it, Tom, we’re just reporting it.

November 13, 2013 8:17 pm

I read the AGW general claim that the warmer the climate, the warmer the oceans, the more intense the storms. I was curious.
If you look at the global temperature anomaly, there is a highly localized extremely temperature anomaly east/southeast of the Philippines It looks like the Typhoon had the perfect conditions to be an intense storm and unique event.
Yet overall as presented, the frequency of hurricane and typhoons seem stable. The Atlantic never had a major US landfall hurricane this year.

Richard Patton
November 13, 2013 8:28 pm

In the western Pacific there have been no ***measured*** over water typhoon wind speeds for decades, ever since the Air Force stopped Reconnaissance flights in the `90’s.All supposed measurements are ***estimates*** based on satellite images. I can remember several times during the the nearly ten years I was in the western Pacific in Navy weather when a satellite image would indicate a typhoon winds were 30-40 knots greater than that actually measured. Typhoon Tip in 1979 was ****measured**** at 195 Gusts to 215 (don’t believe the 190 mph in Wikipedia,I saw the observations). I will believe ***measured*** wind speeds over ***estimated*** wind speeds any day.

November 13, 2013 8:46 pm

Sorry, this is the link for weekly sea temperature anomaly.
My previous comment was sea elevation anomaly which is more severe east of Philippines.

November 13, 2013 9:26 pm

Reblogged this on Combyne's Weblog and commented:
A terrible typhoon, but it seems a little over hyped, please read on and judge for yourself.
Whatever the answer, our thoughts remain with those affected, and yes we have made a donation, as we did for the Boxing Day Tsunami.

November 13, 2013 9:37 pm

Tip had slower windspeeds than some smaller tropical cyclones, in part from larger size causing more Corealis force in addition to centrifugal force that the pressure gradient force fights against for wind speeds. Keep in mind that the greatest Nor’Easters and Hurricane Sandy achieved barometric pressures typical of Cat-3 hurricanes, while wind speed was in low end of (or a little below) Cat-1-qualifying. Latitude also makes a difference – the farther from the equator, the more the Coriolis force matters.

November 14, 2013 1:14 am

Has anybody explained the 858 millibar recorded on:
It shows 858 mb with 170knots.

Brian H
November 14, 2013 1:39 am

robricket says:
November 13, 2013 at 12:33 pm
Well done Paul. There appears to be a typo in the following setence: “Together with ties, typhoons with Yolanda’s atmospheric pressure or less can be expected every couple of years in the Western Pacific.”

Paul’s sentence is fine. You, however, misspelled “sentence” as “setence”.
Gunga Din;
That’s “in vain”.

David Wells
November 14, 2013 1:56 am

Instead of blubbing at the COP saying ‘we can stop this now’ presumably by an immediate and huge reduction in Co2 emissions aided by a $100 billion contribution from us maybe he should first reflect if indeed he believes the ipcc he should first ask neighbouring nations to stop burning and exporting so much coal or in reality – most likely just interested in a big handout. And before the handwringing gets too far out of proportion clearly everyone has already forgotten the 16,000 who lost their lives with the Fukushima tsunami and just a few years ago the 5000 who died in Thailand tsunami. Everyone is just making a little too much of this natural episode and remember this no one in this area of the planet gave a tupenny damn about the slaughter of 200,000 Orangutans to facilitate palm oil plantations to make cash out of green or that this same area is now the biggest market for rhino horn causing the slaughter of another 483 rare species. There are 7 billion or more humans but just a few thousand rhinos, tigers and orangutans and guess who gets my support for aid certainly not humans, all of this whinging and weeping about human tragedy over sentimentalised emotional claptrap makes me weep. Get over it and move on at their birth rate they will make up the deficit within days.

Richard LH
November 14, 2013 3:36 am

David Wells says
November 14, 2013 at 1:56 am
“Get over it and move on at their birth rate they will make up the deficit within days.”
If you are interested in facts rather than prejudice then it is worth taking the test at and see how accurate your current knowledge is and watching the program.

David Wells
November 14, 2013 4:13 am

Philippine population has risen from 60 million to 90 million enough said. Think Richard LH you have missed the main thrust of my text, if the planet lost a few billion humans so what, the fact remains and it is not that human reproduction maybe slowing down overall its that right now there are too many of us and wildlife is being pushed out and China, Indonesia, Malaysia just love grinding up animals bits and using them for medicine have you seen exactly how fishermen in this area rip of sharks fins and through the defined shark back in still alive to suffer a slow death. These guys will kill and eat anything and have no concerns whatsoever about anything other than themselves we should not waste our time blubbing over a few thousand and 16,000 at Fukushima still trumps a few thousand at the Philippines does it not. I am up with the program its all a load of cobblers the world is what it is and the real issue is that too many people on both sides and right down the middle of the climate debate are making money out of something about which we can do nothing whatsoever its about time the facile argument about what causes this is that is irrelevant because it cannot be changed. Once fossil fuel is extinct then its over in any case there is no replacement.

Jonathan Abbott
November 14, 2013 5:02 am

Excellent post. Thank you.

November 14, 2013 5:19 am

Here’s a link to JTWC observation/warning 8th nov:
081800Z — NEAR 12.4N 118.1E
and one to original warnings for 7th-12th nov

November 14, 2013 8:43 am

PBS Newshour last night had a reporter call it “the strongest storm ever recorded”. No data will change what they want to believe.

Jim Clarke
November 14, 2013 9:29 am

The people who write the news want nothing more than to use superlatives. It has always been that way and will likely stay that way for ever. This has nothing to do with any agenda, other than the agenda to use superlatives. They work very hard at including words like: worst, most, deadliest, costliest, biggest, smallest, best, fastest, longest, saddest, darkest, and so on. Negative superlatives are always prefered over positive superlatives. The warmests are experts at handing the media negative superlatives, so they get the coverage!
The media does not have an agenda to promote CAGW, other than their desire to use superlatives. For CAGW skeptics to get traction with the media, they cannot talk about how ‘normal’ climate will be in the future. That is simply not news. We will have to figure out a way to ‘sell’ the story with superlatives.

November 14, 2013 11:06 am

Paul Homewood said: “Quite simply Yolanda and Camille cannot be seriously compared with each other.”
Gee, just in the prior paragraph regarding Camille you note that “The actual maximum sustained winds will never be known, as the hurricane destroyed all the wind-recording instruments in the landfall area. The estimates at the coast are near 200 mph.”
Estimates (not measurements) at the coast, not over landfall, were near 200 mph. And we don’t know whether that was for 1 minute, 10 minutes – apparently you just assume the latter since that serves your premise. You then quote a journalist – you know, the same people who at the start of your post are excoriated for being inaccurate. I guess that accusation does not apply to historical journalism? The story says that the US Navy detected speeds of 180 knots (207 mph) 100 miles offshore. Yolanda reached 195 mph at landfall, and it’s not comparable to a storm that reached 200 mph offshore? I’m absolutely baffled at your logic.
As far as the fatalities, that number is already up to 4460, with many areas yet to report due to inaccessibility. As expected, the Philippines President is downplaying the figures as this tragedy has put huge pressure on his administration.

November 14, 2013 12:48 pm

Chris writes:
As far as the fatalities…
AP withdraws report of 4,460 dead in Philippines typhoon

Gunga Din
November 14, 2013 1:08 pm

Brian H says:
November 14, 2013 at 1:39 am
Gunga Din;
That’s “in vain”.
Thanks for fixing my typo!

November 14, 2013 1:24 pm

Can I point out that there is a unintended positive consequence that happens as a result of the sensationalist and over-hyped reporting, it gets the worlds attention and encourages a faster response for disaster relief.

November 14, 2013 5:21 pm

‘The sensationalist and over-hyped reporting of much of the media immediately after the tragedy was, in my view, utterly disgraceful. Perhaps in future, they might care to check the facts first’
No they won’t. No money in facts.
ps. my comments are not edited by Maurice Strong. ( Terrorista Illuminista )

Steve Garcia
November 14, 2013 9:11 pm

I am slightly amazed that so many people point to Hurricane Camille in 1969, but not Hurricane Allen in 1980.

Hurricane Allen was a rare and extremely powerful Cape Verde-type hurricane which struck the Caribbean, eastern and northern Mexico then southern Texas. . . The first named storm and first tropical cyclone of the 1980 Atlantic hurricane season, it was one of the strongest hurricanes in recorded history and one of the few hurricanes to reach Category 5 status on the Saffir–Simpson Hurricane Scale on three separate occasions, and spent more time as a Category 5 than any other Atlantic hurricane. Allen is the second of only two hurricanes in the recorded history of the Atlantic basin to achieve sustained winds of 190 mph (305 km/h), after Hurricane Camille in 1969.

sustained winds of 190 mph

August 9-12th, 1980 (Allen): Allen formed 1100 miles east of Barbados on the 1st. It moved westward through the Atlantic and became a hurricane on the 3rd, when about 120 miles east of Barbados (track above). The storm became the strongest hurricane ever in the Caribbean on the 7th, with winds of 185 mph and higher gusts, and a pressure of 899 Mb (26.55″).

November 15, 2013 5:53 am

Paul, wow a lot of work put in. But you should really explain that that change of mind about Category 4. here and on the last page It’s always OK to admit errors and this really was an exceptional circumstance to be able to say PAGASA 10min average speed of 147mph making it a Category 4, can reasonably be guessed as being 167mph on 1min average so making it a Category 5.
– But as regards those 195mph and 235mph gust speed : Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. So I think we can’t assume that the 195mph peak landfall speed estimate by JTWC can be called fact. Also note that JTWC estimate is for less than 3 hours before landfall , it would be different if it had given an estimate for similar speeds 6 or 13 hours earlier.
I note that the Wikipedia page NOW has a large section about climate change COP19 etc and has also been locked. They no longer make claims about the biggest ever calling it one of the biggest.
I believe the way it’s written is misleading, like claiming the the 195mph as landfall speed, but only citing Weatherunderground as a source. Similar weak links etc. And the Talk seems to be full of people desperate to get the climate change spin angle put in.

Ian Sloan
November 15, 2013 8:16 am

Considering that the upshot of Kyoto, and other policies to reduce atmospheric CO2 effectively removes the opportunity of countries like the Philippines having access to cheap energy, and are relegating third world countries to “high energy cost” poverty, I find it utterly repulsive that alarmists seem to revel in the death toll as some measure of just how correct their argument is ….
It is POVERTY that killed so many … does anyone think so many would have been killed if the same winds had hit Florida ?
On a similar issue, when are the BBC going to call people out on constant falsehoods such as “The strongest typhoon ever to hit land” … the answer, regrettably is never, and that is why WUWT is SO important

November 15, 2013 11:58 am

Unless satellite images are vastly misleading…I’d say Haiyan, at initial landfall (a bit south of Guiuan), was AT LEAST as strong as Typhoon Megi. Remember that Typhoon Megi had aircraft measurements of 885mb and 190mph 1-minute winds (145mph 10-min winds) at the time of the photo in this comparison:
My heart goes out to all those affected.

November 16, 2013 9:53 am

I read through all of your links, and did not see 1 minute intervals of averages for the actual wind speed for Camille. The references say estimated wind speed. Here’s a quote from a detailed post-Camille study, co-authored by Roger Pielke – “There were no records of winds near the eye of the storm, but estimates ranged up to 190 mph.” That’s not 1 minute intervals, which you imply in your rebuttal, but an estimate based on structural damage.
To my point about Yolanda reaching 195 mph at landfall, yes, it did. I quote from Dr. Jeff Masters of Wunderground – “Three hours before landfall, the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) assessed Haiyan’s sustained winds at 195 mph, gusting to 235 mph, making it the 4th strongest tropical cyclone in world history. Satellite loops show that Haiyan weakened only slightly, if at all, in the two hours after JTWC’s advisory, so the super typhoon likely made landfall with winds near 195 mph. The next JTWC intensity estimate, for 00Z UTC November 8, about three hours after landfall, put the top winds at 185 mph. Averaging together these estimates gives a strength of 190 mph an hour after landfall. Thus, Haiyan had winds of 190 – 195 mph at landfall, making it the strongest tropical cyclone on record to make landfall in world history. The previous record was held by the Atlantic’s Hurricane Camille of 1969, which made landfall in Mississippi with 190 mph winds.”
Clearly based on this, Haiyan/Yolanda is comparable to Camille, contrary to your assertion.
As to the number of deaths, I agree the total will vary, and unfortunately, is just going to rise over time – today I’ve seen figures of 4400 and 3600, with the caveat that many remote places have not even been contacted yet. It’s quite clear that whatever figures are stated now are quite premature and thus not a good gauge of what the ultimate total will be.
At the end of your post, you state: “The sensationalist and over-hyped reporting of much of the media immediately after the tragedy was, in my view, utterly disgraceful. Perhaps in future, they might care to check the facts first.”
In your rush to discredit the media reporting, you’ve gone to the other extreme – under-hyping the severity of the storm and the deaths. Perhaps in the future you should check your facts first.

November 16, 2013 8:13 pm

I don’t have an issue agreeing with the Camille numbers, as long as its acknowledged that those are estimates, and not instrument or radar based.
Given that, then it seems to me that for Yolanda, if we are comparing apples to apples, the focus should be on 1 minute, not 10 minute figures – for 2 reasons. The first is that a visual damage assessment (ie what was done for Camille) will be a function of the damage peak winds do, not long term (10 minute) sustained winds. Second, if the starting point of the conversation is on the damage storms do to lives and property, it seems to me that winds being sustained for 1 minute is sufficient to damage buildings – I’d be doubtful that much more damage occurs between the 1 minute mark and the 10 minute mark.
As to the gap between PAGASA and JWTC data, it may be that the fast moving speed of the storm made the usual 1min to 10 min multipliers incorrect. Or it could be that the PAGASA instruments at the location of the storm’s landfall at Guiuan were destroyed –
If JWTC were known for having sloppy data, I could understand questioning the use of their figures. But from what I’ve seen, they are well regarded. As to PAGASA and the Philippines government, we already have a police chief who was sacked because he estimated fatalities of 10,000 (which, if true, makes the government look bad), and a President who clearly substantially understated the death tolls.
I fully acknowledge that the press, in general, often sensationalize calamities. But in this case I think their figures will be proven correct.

November 17, 2013 2:18 pm

PBS has relentlessly pedaled the AGW propaganda . I only see their Newshour by chance when I happen to be at my parent’s house at that time. And it seems like every time they have some propaganda piece on climate, the last being on the storm in the Philippines. And, as usual, they had the views of two guests, but on this topic, both on the same side, i.e. Kevin Trenberth of Climategate fame and Jeff Masters of the Weather Underground.
More of us need to voice complaints to the PBS ombudsman.

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