Case study: Typhoon Haiyan, 2013

Typhoon Haiyan started over the Philippines at 9am Friday, moved over the South China Sea by 9am Saturday, and moved over Cambodia, Vietnam and China by 9am Sunday.

The storm originated south-east of Micronesia, in the west of the Pacific Ocean. It developed a central eye and became a typhoon on 5th November 2013.

  • The storm tracked north-west towards South East Asia.
  • It developed into a super typhoon just before it made landfall in the Philippines on Friday 8th November 2013, as a category five equivalent typhoon.
  • It then continued across the South China Sea to Vietnam.
  • The typhoon was travelling at approximately 230 km/hour (with gusts of up to 375 km/hour) when it hit the Philippines.
  • Lowest pressure - 895 millibars.
  • Typhoon Haiyan measured 425 km in diameter - roughly the width of southern England.

Causes of Typhoon Haiyan

  • Deep ocean water above 27°C in temperature.
  • Warm, moist air that after rising, cooled and condensed to produce a band of especially heavy rain.

Effects of Typhoon Haiyan

  • 11.5 million people were affected by Typhoon Haiyan.
  • Over 10,000 people lost their lives.
  • 600,000 people were displaced.
  • 130,074 houses were destroyed.

The Philippine government estimated that about 71,000 hectares (175,000 acres) of farmland were affected. The major rice and sugar producing areas for the Philippines were destroyed. Many coconut plantations were also destroyed. Coconuts account for nearly half the Philippines agricultural exports and the country is the world's biggest producer of coconut oil. Fishing communities were destroyed along with hundreds of fishing boats.

Many cities were devastated and left without clean water, electricity, or food. Some survivors began to loot abandoned houses and shops. Tacloban was one of the most damaged cities, with 90% of its structures destroyed or damaged.

In some coastal regions, almost every building was left flattened. Many houses had their roofs ripped off, leaving their residents with no shelter. Waves up to 15 metres high swept through built-up areas. Water supplies were polluted bringing diseases such as cholera.

Responses to Typhoon Haiyan

  • 1,215 evacuation centres were set up.
  • The Philippines government was placed under great pressure to speed up distribution of food, water and medicines.
  • The United Nations admitted its response to the typhoon disaster in the Philippines had been too slow. The country was left for a week without any aid until countries like USA, China, Japan, Russia and the UK started to provide much needed resources like food and water.
  • Typhoon Haiyan cost the Philippines government around 20 billion dollars - equivalent to 5% of its GDP. By striking an already poor region, it pushed families deeper into poverty, making them more vulnerable to the next disaster.