It’s been three years since Typhoon Haiyan / Yolanda ripped through the central Philippines taking the lives of over 6,300 people and changing the way most look at typhoons forever.
Even today I still get messages from people worried about future storms more so now than ever because of their horrible experience in Haiyan. A storm which is often now used as the benchmark for the strongest a typhoon can get.
Official records have not confirmed Haiyan to be the strongest storm in recent history due to lack of observations and recon aircraft in the region. But taking a look at Satellite imagery one can infer this storm was on a whole other level and really stands alone in the realm of Super Typhoons.
The other main issue with this storm is that it made landfall right at peak intensity. Plowing on shore with record breaking winds it ushered in a storm surge that most residents referred to as a Tsunami like rise in sea level. This wall of water left a swath of destruction kilometers inland. In the debris thousands of homes, businesses and lives were swept away.
It was not just Tacloban that suffered the worst of damage but towns much farther inland including in the Cebu area were also devastated due to the storm.
Unfortunately the path to rebuilding was rather slow in the area. And now even red tape continues to delays some permanent buildings being set up.
After the storm there was a mass out pour of help from people from around the world. By November 20th ships have arrived off the coast from various countries. Planes flew in directly to the worst hit and vast amount of supplies and relief goods flowed into the country from international aid in one of the largest relief and international cooperation operations ever to be undertaken.
Immediately after the storm we at Westpacwx put out a Message stating “The waters off of Leyte was the sight of the largest Naval Battle in recorded history, now let it be the sight of the largest relief operation in history”. It truly is pushing that at this time. With Hospital boats from China and the US on track to the Coast, the United States Aircraft Carrier George Washington off the Coast and the HMS Instramous en-route, hundreds of vehicles and aircraft on the scene, and over 33,000 of personnel entering the Philippines the international relief on the ground is pushing record heights. This is along with the billions of dollars which have been contributed to the efforts from not just donations but the every day person from around the world.
One of the main issues with Haiyan as well was the lack of sufficient warning ahead of the storm. As Jim Edds said on a interview with Jay Leno at the tonight show “they had a broken truck warning people a storm was coming over a loud speaker”. In return most people thought it was just another typhoon and not the monster it truly was.
The good news is that the disorganization of the hours following Haiyan has now led to a brighter and much organized response. Lessons learned early on have given way to cooperation and efficiency. PAGASA has put new guidelines in place since this storm and now stress storm surge more clearly in their Typhoon Bulletins. Furthermore they have added a Super Typhoon Category starting in 2015 to help alert people of an impending serious storm.
James Reynolds and Josh Morgerman having lived through this typhoon themselves will be in attendance. You can follow James Twitter Below.
Tweets by @typhoonfury