Monday, 18th of October, Cauayan, Philippines. A day began as normal as any other. Suddenly, shortly before noon, the disastrous super typhoon Megi slammed into the northern Philippines, cutting off power, and roofs started to fly off the houses. It’s the strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines in years. Electricity downed, communications cut. The destructive force of typhoon Megi has plunged an entire region into chaos.
According to CNN meteorologist Ivan Cabrera, this super typhoon is “the strongest storm on the planet since 2005,” and it is also the strongest storm that wreaked havoc in the Pacific Ocean since 1990. Fatalities, landslides, massive floods, power outages and major damage to properties have been reported in the area.
How Did It Begin?
Though the residents of Cagayan – the province severely battered by Megi – are no strangers to calamities like this, they say its Megi’s strength that is incomparable to previous storms.
Typhoon Megi was first identified by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) on October 12, 2010 as an area of disturbed weather roughly 90 km (55 mi) southeast of Guam.
Radar images depicted that an ‘area of low pressure’ is being formed. The system quickly developed throughout the day. Soon after, the Japan Meterological Agency (JMA) began monitoring this as a ‘tropical depression’. Hours later, early on October 13th, right over the center of circulation, thunderstorm activities were noted. Environmental conditions, such as low wind shear, pole ward outflow, high oceanic heat content and good upper-level divergence allowed for further strengthening.
Later on, the storm grew to “super” typhoon status on Oct. 16, with wind speeds of 178 mph (287 kph). On Oct. 18th at 8:00 a.m. local time, the storm had sustained winds of massive speed, spanning more than 370 miles (600 km) across, intensifying the depression into a tropical storm. It began to downgrade as it moved onshore and crossed over the Sierra Madre mountain range. Over 18 provinces had been placed under alert for the typhoon as it approached the Philippines. Later on, all state schools and colleges were suspended.
Why the Name Megi?
This “super typhoon with Category 5 strength was named Megi, the international codename for this strongest typhoon till date. (‘Magi’ also means catfish in Korean.) The typhoon is also known as JUAN in the local language. It was the most intense tropical cyclone of the year to date.
NASA’s Terra satellite was able to take a snapshot of the storm as it was bearing down on Palanan Bay. This is the strongest typhoon that hit the Philippines in 2010 and the 10th typhoon that visited the country.
This super typhoon is expected to leave the country at 2 p.m. Wednesday. Forecasters are predicting that the storm will continue moving west and north, entering the South China Sea and re-intensifying before a potential landfall in China or Vietnam later this week.
The Difference between Typhoon & Super Typhoon:
Typhoons are the tropical cyclones that form over the Pacific Ocean north of the equator and west of the International Date Line, or cross the Date Line after forming on its eastern side. Much like hurricanes, typhoons develop over large bodies of warm water, which act as energy sources for tropical storm systems. Typhoons pose the biggest threat to coastal areas, since such storms typically lose strength as they move over land.
A ‘super typhoon’ is basically a really intense typhoon with the ability to produce high storm surges and torrential downpours in addition to powerful winds. It is the equivalent of a Category 4 or 5 hurricane. This means that it has maximum sustained winds of 150mph or more.
Typhoons turn up most commonly in countries in East Asia, such as Taiwan, Vietnam, Japan, Korea, the Philippines and China. U.S. territories in the region, such as Hawaii and Guam, also frequently suffer typhoon damage.
Though typhoon Megi is expected to leave the country by Wednesday the 20th, it has already caused massive damage to the country, leaving behind a large number of homeless people and having plunged the entire region into chaos.