I just have to share what’s going on over in the Philippines right now. It hits close to home, not because I’m (vaguely) Filipino, but because my aunt and uncle live in Leyte, the first island in Typhoon Yolanda’s path.
For context, this typhoon is a category 5, Hurricane Katrina (when it hit land) was rated category 3. Winds are reported to top around 195mph with 15 foot waves off the coast. My aunt and uncle live near that coast, and none of my family have heard back from them.
My auntie was always the middle man in our family, translating generational and culture differences between other family members. When I started dating, she reminded my parents that I was a level headed kid and assured them I wasn’t out picking up a coke habit.
They were a big part of my life growing up, and I’m very afraid this story (along with thousands of other people in the Philippines) isn’t going to end well.
Super Typhoon Haiyan, which slammed into the Philippines early Friday morning, is one of the strongest storms ever recorded on the planet. Here are some fast facts about the storm:
• Super Typhoon Haiyan had winds of 195 mph and gusts of 235 mph. This is one of the highest wind speeds ever recorded in a storm in world history.
• It made landfall as the most powerful typhoon or hurricane in recorded history, as based on wind speed measurements from satellites.
• The strength of Haiyan is equal to that of an extremely powerful Category 5 hurricane in the Atlantic. (Typhoons are the same type of storms as hurricanes).
• No hurricane in the Atlantic has ever been this strong; Hurricane Camille hit the U.S. Gulf Coast with an estimated wind speed of 190 mph.
• The storm is over 300 miles wide: The width is about equal to the distance between Boston and Philadelphia.
• Haiyan is the fourth typhoon to hit the Philippines in 2013.
• The Philippines typically gets hit by more typhoons than any country on Earth, usually about six or seven each year.
• About 10 million people live on the central Philippine islands and are most at risk of a direct strike from Haiyan.
• A storm surge as high as 15 feet is possible in some parts of the Philippines.
• A 50-mile wide swath of 8+ inches of rain is predicted to cross the central Philippines, which will lead to dangerous flash floods and mudslides.