Super Typhoon Haiyan 2013: Philippines Braces For One Of The Strongest Storms Ever

By Josh Lieberman on November 7, 2013 6:09 PM EST

typhoon Haiyan
Super Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms ever recorded, is heading towards the Philippines with sustained winds of 190 mph. (Photo: Reuters)

Super typhoon Haiyan, the most powerful tropical cyclone of 2013 and one of the strongest ever, is barreling towards the Philippines with sustained winds of 195 mph and gusts up to 235 mph. Super Typhoon Haiyan is likely to make landfall on Friday morning in the Eastern Visayas region of the Philippines. It is expected to remain a super typhoon when it hits, so significant destruction and death are all but inevitable. 

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"You don't get storms any stronger than this," said Michael Lowry of the Weather Channel. "You have to go back to 1980 with Hurricane Allen to find a hurricane or tropical system this strong."

Michael Palmer, lead meteorologist for the Weather Channel, said that destruction from typhoons is usually great when they hit poor island nations, as there is generally nowhere for residents to go. Palmer noted that when a similar typhoon struck the Philippines in 1990 (presumably Typhoon Mike), 700 people were killed, so Palmer predicted that "you are going to see that here, maybe even worse."

Known in the Phillipines as Yolanda, Super Typhoon Haiyan is equivalent to a Category 5 hurricane. Strong winds and heavy rains are already pressing down in the storm's path, with schools being shuttered, ferries docked and evacuation orders issued. 

One island which is not expected to be hit, but which will experience heavy winds and rain, is Bohol, an area that was devastated by a 7.3-magnitude earthquake last month. The quake killed over 200 people, and 5,000 residents of Bohol are still living in tents there. The government has been moving Bohol residents into shelters in anticipation of Super Typhoon Haiyan.

After going through the Philippines, Haiyan is expected to weaken as it moves onto Vietnam on Saturday and Sunday. 

An average of 20 typhoons hit the Philippines every year. Super Typhoon Haiyan marks the 25th to hit the Philippines this year. The area is particularly good breeding grounds for super typhoons because of the water temperature in the Philippines.  

"The waters [in that part of the Pacific] are extremely warm, so with the right atmospheric conditions and steering currents, you have the ideal making of a storm that can eventually develop into a super typhoon," Hans Graber, a marine physics professor at Florida's University of Miami, told National Geographic.

Check out the Weather Channel's Hurricane Central for the latest Super Typhoon Haiyan updates.

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