Typhoon Haiyan hits the Philippines in this weather satellite image, courtesy of the Japan Meteorological Agency
As super typhoon “Yolanda” (international name Haiyan) hit Samar early Friday, it made a world record as the strongest tropical cyclone to hit land in world history.
Yolanda barreled into Guiuan at around 4:40 a.m. with sustained winds of up to 195 mph, making it the fourth strongest tropical cyclone ever recorded, meteorologist Jeff Masters claimed.
While it is only the fourth most powerful cyclone in history, it was the strongest to make landfall, Masters added in his blog Weather Underground.
Yolanda broke the record previously set by hurricane Camille, which slammed into Mississippi in 1969. Masters said Camille had sustained winds of 190 mph at landfall.
“The strongest reliably measured tropical cyclones were all 5 mph weaker than Haiyan, with 190 mph winds,” Masters said in his blog, citing international weather records.
Apart from Camille, which formed over the Atlantic, these typhoons included super typhoon Tip over the Western Pacific in 1979, and the Atlantic’s Hurricane Allen in 1980.
International weather monitoring organizations have earlier tagged Yolanda as a category 5 storm and dubbed it as the most powerful cyclone in the world this year.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomic Services Aadministration has raised the rarely used storm signal number 4 in several areas after Yolanda hit land.
Pagasa weather forecasters have however noted that the storm is moving fast, and is expected to be out of the Philippine area of responsibility by Saturday morning.
Masters had the same observation, saying “the storm’s fast forward speed of 25 mph will cut down on the total rainfall amounts” compared to other typhoons that hit the country.
“Hopefully, this will substantially recede the death toll due to flash flooding, which is usually the biggest killer in Philippine typhoons,” the meteorologist said.
Authorities have nonetheless advised residents in vulnerable areas along Yolanda’s path to take precautionary measures, which may include evacuation and other preparations.
Masters said Haiyan will “steadily decay” as it exits the Philippines “due to colder waters and higher wind shear.” He expects that it will be a category 1 or 2 typhoon when it hits Vietnam.