Super Typhoon Hagupit Aims for the Philippine Islands, Threatening the Region Devastated by Hayan

By Tom Yulsman | December 4, 2014 10:32 am

Typhoon Hagupit swirls to the east of the Philippine Islands in this image captured by NASA’s Terra satellite on Thursday, Dec. 4, 2014. (Source: NASA)

Super Typhoon Hagupit is swirling off the coast of the Philippine Islands today with maximum sustained winds of about 170 miles per hour and gusts of more than 200 (as of 11 a.m. EST).

It looks like the cyclone, known as Ruby in the Philippines, is headed for landfall there some time on Saturday.


Source: JTWC

The U.S. Joint Typhoon Warning Center and the Philippine PAGASA agency disagree on Hagupit’s exact track, but the storm is likely to hit the area devastated by Super Typhoon Hayan. Click on the thumbnail at right for the JTWC’s latest forecast track. And click here for PAGASA’s forecast.

The good news is that Hagupit is likely to weaken quite a bit before landfall, thanks to wind shear and cooler ocean temperatures closer to the coast. The bad news is that high winds, storm surges, and landslides from torrential rains are all quite possible.

The typhoon intensified rapidly yesterday. Today it features a well defined eye, as seen in the image at the top of this, acquired by NASA’s Terra satellite today. The Philippine islands are to the left side of the image.

Ocean conditions this year are very different from last. As reported by Jeff Masters, chief meteorologist for Weather Underground, “Haiyan intensified into a Category 5 super typhoon with 195 mph sustained winds . . . on November 7, 2013” — fueled by unusually warm sub-surface waters.

This year, there is less heat energy in the Western Pacific to fuel typhoons, thanks to a slowly developing El Niño. Trade winds, which blow from east to west, have weakened. This has allowed warm waters in the Western Pacific to slosh eastward, toward South America.

Today, the U.S. Climate Prediction Center upped the odds of a full-fledged El Niño developing this winter. Last month they pegged the odds at less than 60 percent. Today’s assessment puts it at 65 percent. But as in previous reports, the CPC says it is likely to be a weak event.



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.


See More


Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

Collapse bottom bar