Super Typhoon Haiyan, one of strongest storms ever, heads for central Philippines
November 7, 2013
PHILIPPINES – Thousands of people in vulnerable areas of the Philippines are being relocated as the strongest storm on the planet so far this year spins toward the country. With sustained winds of 305 kph (190 mph) and gusts as strong as 370 kph (230 mph), Super Typhoon Haiyan was churning across the Western Pacific toward the central Philippines as one of the most intense tropical cyclones ever recorded. Its wind strength makes it equivalent to an exceptionally strong Category 5 hurricane. The storm, known as Yolanda in the Philippines, is expected to still be a super typhoon, with winds in excess of 240 kph (149 mph), when it makes landfall Friday morning in the region of Eastern Visayas. The storm is so large in diameter that clouds from it are affecting two-thirds of the country. Authorities in the region had moved more than 3,800 people to evacuation centers by late Thursday, Maj. Reynaldo Balido of the Philippine Office of Civil Defense said. Most of those relocated live in Tacloban City, which sits on the coast of the island of Leyte and has a population of more than 200,000. In a speech Thursday, President Benigno S. Aquino III warned residents of the “calamity our countrymen will face in these coming days. Let me repeat myself: This is a very real danger, and we can mitigate and lessen its effects if we use the information available to prepare,” he said.
The government has three C-130 cargo aircraft ready to respond, as well as 32 planes and helicopters from the air force, the president said. Officials have placed relief supplies in the areas that are expected to get hit, Aquino said. “The effects of this storm can be eased through solidarity,” he said. As it moves across heavily populated areas of the central Philippines, Haiyan’s high winds and torrential rain are expected to affect millions of people. The storm system had a diameter of about 800 kilometers (500 miles) as of early Thursday afternoon. The Philippine weather agency, Pagasa, warned more than 30 provinces across the country Thursday to be prepared for possible flash floods and landslides. Schools in many areas canceled classes, emergency services were put on high alert, and airlines canceled flights. Some of the most vulnerable people are those living in makeshift shelters on the central Philippine island of Bohol. Last month, a 7.1-magnitude earthquake hit the island, which lies close to the typhoon’s predicted path. The quake killed at least 222 people, injured nearly 1,000 and displaced around 350,000, according to authorities. -CNN