One of the world’s strongest storms ever recorded has killed at least 4 people and forced nearly 750,000 to flee their homes in the Philippines. Power and communications have been knocked out in several provinces as the monstrous Super Typhoon Haiyan ferociously raced over the islands of Samar, Leyte, Cebu and Panay, from east to west.
But the nation appeared to avoid a major disaster as the fast-moving Haiyan blew away before causing more damage. Due to downed communications, it is impossible to know the full extent of casualties and damage at this time. Southern Leyte Gov. Roger Mercado said the typhoon triggered landslides that blocked roads, uprooted trees and ripped roofs off houses around his residence. There are reports of floodwater as high as 10 feet in some areas!
Dozens of flights in the central and southern Philippines were canceled. A storm surge estimated at 15 feet (5 meters) damaged a seaside airport in Leyte’s Tacloban city. Airport workers moved to the tower and were safe but no other details had been reported because communications were cut by the typhoon, aviation official John Andrews said.
“They’ve been incommunicado. The last message we got from them was that the airport was ruined,” Andrews said. The typhoon also damaged the airport in Kalibo town in Aklan. Forecasters said the storm was expected to move out of the Philippines and into the South China Sea on Saturday morning, where it was likely to pick up renewed strength on its way toward Vietnam and Laos by Sunday into Monday.
The U.S. Navy’s Joint Typhoon Warning Center said shortly before the typhoon made landfall that its maximum sustained winds were 195 mph with gusts up to 235 mph. If the U.S. figures are correct, they would be the highest ever for a tropical cyclone when it made landfall anywhere on Earth, beating out Hurricane Camille, which had wind speeds of 190 mph at landfall in the southeast United States 1969. Haiyan just may be Earth’s biggest storm!
Written with help from article by Oliver Teves and Teresa Cerojano, AP
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-The WeatherBug – Earth Networks Team