Nov 8, 2013

Why is the Philippines so Prone to Typhoons?

As Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) devastates the Visayan islands in central Philippines, creating a path of absolute destruction along the way, one can't help but wonder:  why is the Philippines prone to typhoons?

It is all about location, location, location.  The very same geographic location that provides tourist-friendly tropical weather all year round (sunny at the half of the year from December to May and rainy at the other half between June to November), makes the country prone to typhoons.

The Philippines has the Pacific Ocean for its neighbor.  The Pacific Ocean is a wide expanse of typhoon generator.  When the ocean's surface temperature is warm enough, and atmospheric conditions over the ocean are unstable enough, tropical cyclones or typhoons are likely to develop.  Add several more factors to the mix:  increased humidity, gravitational forces, and wind movement, the result is a force to reckon with.  A whirling, rotating, howling force hell-bent on destruction.

The Philippines receives the full brunt of typhoon formation every year, although other countries nearby such as Japan and China get their share as well.  Nearly thirty percent (30%) of the annual rainfall in the northern areas of the Philippines comes from these Pacific-birthed typhoons alone.

This visible image of Super Typhoon Haiyan approaching
the Philippines was taken from the MODIS instrument
aboard NASA's Aqua satellite on Nov. 7, 2013 at
04:25 UTC/Nov. 6 at 11:25 p.m. EDT.
Image Credit: NASA Goddard MODIS Rapid Response Team

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) is the country's official weather bureau.  It is in-charge of monitoring storm, typhoons and other weather disturbances in the country.  PAGASA releases tropical cyclone warnings in the form of Public Storm Warning Signals. The following are the storm warning signals:

  • PSWS #1 - Tropical cyclone winds of 30 km/h (19 mph) to 60 km/h (37 mph) are expected within the next 36 hours.
  • PSWS #2 - Tropical cyclone winds of 60 km/h (37 mph) to 100 km/h (62 mph) are expected within the next 24 hours.
  • PSWS #3 - Tropical cyclone winds of 100 km/h (62 mph) to 185 km/h (115 mph) are expected within the next 18 hours.
  • PSWS #4 - Tropical cyclone winds of greater than 185 km/h (115 mph) are expected within 12 hours.

Below is a list of the most destructive typhoons in Philippine history:

Most Destructive Philippine Typhoons in History
Rank Names Dates of impact PHP USD
1 Bopha, (Pablo) December 2 -9, 2012 42.2 billion 1.04 billion
2 Parma, (Pepeng) October 2–10, 2009 27.3 billion 608 million
3 Nesat, (Pedring) September 26–28, 2011 15 billion 333 million
4 Fengshen, (Frank) June 20 -23, 2008 13.5 billion 301 million
5 Ketsana, (Ondoy) September 25 -27, 2009 11 billion 244 million
6 Mike, (Ruping) November 10 - 14, 1990 10.8 billion 241 million
7 Angela, (Rosing) October 30 - November 4, 1995 10.8 billion 241 million
8 Flo, (Kadiang) October 2 - October 6, 1993 8.75 billion 195 million
9 Megi (Juan) October 18 - October 21, 2010 8.32 billion 193 million
10 Babs, (Loleng) October 20 - 23 1998 6.79 billion 151 million

 Source:  Wikipedia


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