As Super Typhoon Haiyan Charges Toward Viet Nam, Four New Views of the Storm as Seen From Space

By Tom Yulsman | November 8, 2013 1:01 pm
Super Typhoon Haiyan

A loop of infrared satellite images shows Super Typhoon Haiyan passing over The Phillipines and into the South China Sea on Nov. 8, 2013. The red line shows its forecast track, and the cyclone symbols show its expected intensity. (Source: CIMSS)

As reports of death and destruction begin to emerge from the Philippines, Super Typhoon Haiyan is now swirling in the South China Sea and headed on a track that’s likely to take it up the coast of Vietnam as Category 1 or 2 storm on Saturday.

The devastation in parts of the central Philippines is likely to have been catastrophic. Project NOAH projected that storm surges pushed up by Haiyan could have reached as high as 5.2 meters, or 17 feet, on the island of Leyte. Winds at landfall probably were at 190 to 195 miles per hour, according to Jeff Masters, director of meteorology at Weather Underground.

Masters concluded yesterday that Haiyan was the strongest tropical cyclone to make landfall in recorded history. In a post today at his blog, he says we should expect grim news to emerge from The Phillipines:

Wind damage on the south shore of Samar Island in Guiuan (population 47,000) must have been catastrophic, perhaps the greatest wind damage any place on Earth has endured from a tropical cyclone in the past century.

The storm was both powerful and large. This image may help Americans judge its size:

What if Super Typhoon Haiyan had charged up the U.S. Atlantic coast? (Source: CIMSS)

This fictitious composite shows a satellite image of Haiyan superimposed over the Atlantic off the U.S. East Coast. It’s quite evident that had the storm actually been in the Atlantic as opposed to the western Pacific, its tentacles would have spanned the distance from Florida all the way up to New England.

Here’s another perspective on Haiyan’s size:

Infrared image from the South Korean COMS-1 satellite. (Source: CIMSS)

And lastly, consider this strangely beautiful and simultaneously scary image:

Brian McNoldy, Senior Research Associate at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School Tweeted this high resolution infrared satellite image of Haiyan before it plowed into the Philippines.

  • Micael Nguyễn

    pray for all

  • lessthantolerant

    What the hysteria by the left about global warming and climate change. why can we be awed by nature and its power without trying to trivialize it by equating Man to Nature.



ImaGeo is a visual blog focusing on the intersection of imagery, imagination and Earth. It focuses on spectacular visuals related to the science of our planet, with an emphasis (although not an exclusive one) on the unfolding Anthropocene Epoch.

About Tom Yulsman

Tom Yulsman is Director of the Center for Environmental Journalism and a Professor of Journalism at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He also continues to work as a science and environmental journalist with more than 30 years of experience producing content for major publications. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Audubon, Climate Central, Columbia Journalism Review, Discover, Nieman Reports, and many other publications. He has held a variety of editorial positions over the years, including a stint as editor-in-chief of Earth magazine. Yulsman has written one book: Origins: the Quest for Our Cosmic Roots, published by the Institute of Physics in 2003.


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