November 18th, 2013

Update: Super Typhoon Haiyan

Posted at 10:21 AM ET

haiyan-2-smallOur first thoughts and concerns are with those lost or recovering from the exceptionally severe impacts of Super Typhoon Haiyan. Haiyan is among the strongest tropical cyclones ever recorded, and meets or surpasses the strongest landfalling tropical cyclone in recorded history. Haiyan made landfall in the Philippines on November 8 near Guiuan, with estimated 1-minute wind speeds of 185-195 mph (300-315 km/hr). A second landfall occurred on November 10 as a minimal Typhoon near the Vietnam-China border.

While there is substantial damage to property in the Philippines, insured losses are expected to be low due to limited insurance penetration in the impacted areas.  Insurance industry losses are also expected to be low in Vietnam and China, although heavy rainfall can always cause flash-flooding with serious consequences for individual risks.


Hazard data illustrated in the CAT-i map was taken from i-aXs®, Guy Carpenter’s web-based risk management platform. i-aXs users can view impacted areas on any map as well as see how their portfolios were affected. Please contact your broker or GC Analytics® representative for assistance or go to for further information.

Meteorological Discussion

According to advisories of the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC), a tropical depression was identified in the North West Pacific on November 3, and was reclassified by the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) as Tropical Storm Haiyan at 00 UTC November 4, and then as Typhoon Haiyan at November 5, 00 UTC.

Haiyan then underwent a period of rapid intensification in an environment of exceptionally warm sea-surface temperatures and reduced wind shear. Haiyan was reclassified as a Super Typhoon at 00 UTC November 6. Haiyan reached its peak strength of 195 mph (315 km/h) at 18 UTC November 7, with gusts to 235 mph (380 km/h). This strength ranks Haiyan among the strongest tropical cyclones in world history, and this was mere hours prior to first landfall in the Philippines.

According to Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) advisories, estimated 1-minute winds were 195 mph (315 km/h) as of 18 UTC November 7 and 185 mph (300 km/h) at 00 UTC November 8, prior to and following landfall, respectively.

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.

Haiyan meets or surpasses the intensity of the strongest landfalling tropical cyclone in recorded history: Hurricane Camille (1969) which made landfall on the U.S. Gulf Coast as a devastating 190 mph (305 km/h) hurricane.

Super Typhoon Haiyan began to weaken due to interaction with the land mass of the Philippines, and continued weakening while gradually turning to the northwest. Prior to the second landfall in Vietnam, waves of up to 6feet (2 meters) were reported in Taiwan. Haiyan made second landfall in Quang Ninh Province in northern Vietnam (near the China border), as a weakening minimal typhoon, around 21 UTC November 10. Estimated 1-minute sustained winds at landfall were 75 mph (120 km/h). Following second landfall, Haiyan dissipated rapidly over China but still produced excessive rainfall.

Haiyan is the second category-5 typhoon to hit the Philippines this year after Typhoon Usagi made landfall in September.


According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, approximately 13 million people have been affected by Typhoon Haiyan. The Philippine government reported 3,637 confirmed deaths with over 12,000 injured and approximately 1,200 others reported missing as of November 17. The largest metropolitan area directly in the storm path, Tacloban, with a population of about 1.2 million, has been nearly leveled. Many residents in the area have evacuated or are currently attempting to evacuate.

In Vietnam, over 600,000 people were evacuated from expected high-impact areas ahead of landfall. Early damage reports note extensive damage to homes but no deaths as a result of the storm.

Tacloban and Guiuan in the Philippines have suffered particularly severe impacts. With wind gusts easily exceeding 200 mph (320 km/h), severe to complete structural damage was inflicted adjacent and near to the typhoon’s eyewall. The worst of the damage in coastal areas was inflicted by storm surge. Storm tides were projected to exceed 17 feet (5.3 meters) adjacent and north of the eyewall, and 15 feet (4.5 meters) in Tacloban, according to Government of the Philippines project NOAH. Unofficial reports indicate wave heights of at least 16 feet (5 meters). It will take time to fully assess storm tides and impacts for the affected areas, and of course the response and relief efforts are of paramount importance for those affected.

Inland flooding as a result of excessive rainfall was another hazard posed by Haiyan. Estimated rainfall amounts exceeded 300 mm (12 inches) over a broad area of the Philippines, with local estimated amounts exceeding 600 mm (24 inches) adjacent to the eyewall. Estimated rainfall was only 50-100 mm (2-4 inches) in Manila.

In the second landfall area of Vietnam and China, a 3-5 meter storm tide (9-16 feet) was reported adjacent to the eyewall according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Rainfall estimates were highest over southern China, with estimated amounts as high as 380 mm (15 inches) in Guangxi Province. Estimated amounts were only 50-75 mm (2-3 inches) in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Early estimates of insured losses vary widely, but are expected to be a fraction of the economic cost due to low insurance penetration. Eqecat estimates that aggregate insured losses will not exceed USD100 million, while AIR Worldwide suggests a range of USD300 million to USD700 million based on total economic losses of between USD6.5 billion and USD14.5 billion. The A.M. Best Company predicts insured losses of USD2 billion, relative to total economic loss of USD14 billion. RMS had not released an estimate as of the date of this report.

Sources: Guy Carpenter, Joint Typhoon Warning Center, Japan Meteorological Agency, Weather Underground, World Meteorological Organization, Agence France Presse, Reuters, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, EQECAT, AIR, A.M. Best Company, UN Global Alert and Disaster Coordination System.

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Guy Carpenter publishes CAT-i reports for major natural catastrophes worldwide. These reports cover catastrophes including worldwide tropical cyclones, earthquakes, major UK and European floods and any other natural event that is likely to incur a significant loss to the (re)insurance industry. Please email if you wish to be added to the free email distribution list.
Guy Carpenter compiles RISK-i reports for major technological or man-made events worldwide. These reports cover risks to property, transport and life including explosions, fires, crashes, engineering disasters and terrorist attacks that are likely to incur a significant loss to the (re)insurance industry. Please email if you wish to be added to the free email distribution list.





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