Super Typhoon Haiyan meets or surpasses the record of the strongest landfalling tropical cyclone in recorded history, and is among the strongest ever recorded. Haiyan made landfall during the early morning hours of November 8 near Guiuan, with estimated 1-minute wind speeds of 185-195 mph (300-315 km/hr). While it is still too early to fully assess impacts to the area, severe to complete wind damage is a near certainty adjacent to the storm track, with wave battering and water velocity damage most severe within 20 miles (32 km) of the storm track.
Haiyan is projected to weaken before making a second landfall on Sunday in Vietnam as a strong Typhoon, before weakening as it recurves into China. Projected impacts for Vietnam include moderate to heavy wind damage, surge damage, with flash-flooding and mudslides under heavy rainfall for inland areas.
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Our first thoughts and concerns are with those directly affected by this event. Humanitarian impacts to the affected areas, particularly the Philippines, will be quite severe given the high population still displaced from the recent earthquake. Insurance penetration is low in the area, and according to AIR and EQECAT, projected impacts to the insurance industry should not be significant.
Haiyan meets or surpasses the record of the strongest landfalling tropical cyclone in known history, in comparison to Hurricane Camille (1969) which made landfall on the U.S. Gulf Coast as a 190 mph (305 km/hr) hurricane. With maximum sustained winds to 195 mph (315 km/hr), only a handful of tropical cyclones have achieved similar strength since 1969: Camille (1969), Allen (1980), Tip (1979), Gay (1992) and Angela (1995). Haiyan is among the strongest tropical cyclones in recorded history.
Super Typhoon Haiyan made estimated first landfall at about 4:40AM local time (20:40 UTC) on November 7, 2013, according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA). The landfall area was near Guiuan on the island of Samar. According to PAGASA, 10-minute average winds were reported prior to landfall by Guiuan of 96 mph (155 km/hr), just prior to loss of contact. According to Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) advisories, estimated 1-minute winds were 195 mph (315 km/hr) as of 18 UTC on November 7, and 185 mph (300 km/hr) at 00 UTC November 8, three hours prior to and following landfall, respectively.
Haiyan is the second category-5 typhoon to hit the Philippines this year after Typhoon Usagi made landfall in September.
Super Typhoon Haiyan has begun to weaken due to interaction with the land mass of the Philippines. According to the JTWC, Haiyan still carries winds of 155 mph (250 km/hr), with gusts to 190 mph (305 km/hr). Haiyan is still a very dangerous storm equivalent to a high Category-4 Hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale. Haiyan is projected by the JTWC and the JMA to continue to weaken as it enters cooler waters and a more hostile environment over the South China Sea.
A second landfall is expected by the JTWC on the coast of Vietnam during the day Sunday as a significant tropical cyclone, with maximum sustained winds of around 100 mph (160 km/hr). Hazards to the Vietnam area include a dangerous storm surge, excessive rainfall and typhoon-force winds. Wave battering and water velocity damage can be expected for coastal areas. Flash-flooding and mudslides are a threat under excessive rainfall (with amounts as high as 12 inches or 300 mm). Moderate to severe wind damage to residential and light commercial structures can also be expected.
Following this second landfall, Haiyan should continue to weaken as it recurves to the north into the Asian mainland, where heavy rainfall will be the primary threat.
Over one million people have been evacuated from the most heavily-exposed areas in the Philippines, while evacuations were under way in Vietnam on Friday. Initial reports stated that three people were confirmed dead, and several others injured before landfall. The Philippines’ national disaster agency projects that more than 12 million people are affected, including the 2.5 million residents of Cebu City, the closest metropolitan area to the point of landfall. The area is still recovering from a 7.1 magnitude earthquake that hit on October 19, killing over 200 people and displacing about 350,000 residents. Many of those displaced by the earthquake were still living in temporary shelters when Haiyan made landfall.
Authorities closed 13 airports and suspended nearly 500 flights on Friday.
While too early to assess the full extent of the damage, Haiyan has brought severe wind, rain and surge hazards. Probable impacts include excessive rainfall with local amounts to 400 mm (16 inches), bringing flash flooding and mudslides for inland areas. A storm surge will have affected coastal regions adjacent to and north of the landfall area within a 20 mile swath, possibly reaching 5-6 m (15-18 feet), with near-shore wave heights to 5-7 m (15-19 ft). The storm surge will have imposed severe inundation, wave and water velocity damage, especially for coastal areas of Matarinao Bay and San Pedro and San Pablo Bay.
Severe to complete wind damage is a near-certainty adjacent and just north of the eyewall near Tacloban, with probable damage to even reinforced concrete structures. Light commercial and residential structures will have sustained severe to complete damage. Buildings of older or substandard construction would have suffered impacts of a substantially more severe nature.
An average of twenty typhoons hit the Philippines every year. Super Typhoon Bopha made landfall over southern Philippines as a Category-5 storm in 2012, causing severe damage and over 1,000 fatalities.
Insurance penetration is rather low for affected areas, and according to AIR and EQECAT projected impacts to the industry are not expected to be significant.
The humanitarian toll of this event will be quite severe, and of course our first thoughts and concerns are with those directly affected by this historic storm.
Sources: Joint Typhoon Warning Center, Japan Meteorological Agency, Weather Underground, Agence France Presse, EQECAT, AIR, CNN.
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