I was a little surprised that no one had written a diary specifically about Typhoon Bopha (if I missed one please let me know), the largest typhoon to hit the Island of Mindanao (second largest of the islands in the Philippines archipelago) in recorded history.
Super typhoon Bopha smashed into the southern Philippines island of Mindanao early this morning [Tuesday] with estimated sustained winds of 160 mph and torrential, flooding rains. [...]The most recent death toll from Bopha is rapidly approaching 300 deaths, with may more people still unaccounted for, and thousands made homeless by the storm and the flooding the resulted.
The UK Met office says Bopha was the most intense typhoon on record to strike the island of Mindanao. It adds the storm produced 3.6 inches of rain in 6 hours at Malaybalay, a city on the island.[...]
Bopha just missed being the closest-to-equator category-five equivalent typhoon on record in the western North Pacific Basin (or any other basin, for that matter), reaching that intensity at 7.4 degrees north latitude Monday morning (U.S. time). Only Typhoon Louise in 1964, becoming a category-five equivalent typhoon at 7.3 degrees north latitude, was closer to the equator.
(NEW BATAAN, Philippines) — Stunned parents searching for missing children examined a row of mud-stained bodies covered with banana leaves while survivors dried their soaked belongings on roadsides Wednesday, a day after a powerful typhoon killed nearly 300 people in the southern Philippines.
Officials fear more bodies may be found as rescuers reach hard-hit areas that were isolated by landslides, floods and downed communications. [...]
... Bopha roared quickly across the southern Mindanao and central regions, knocking out power in two entire provinces, triggering landslides and leaving houses and plantations damaged. More than 170,000 fled to evacuation centers.
Here's a satellite picture of Bopha (source CIMSS where other images of the storm are available):
Perhaps we are becoming immune to the magnitude of such storms, or perhaps because the Philippines is half a world away, it doesn't register with many Americans. Still this one tropical storm was far more deadly that Hurricane Sandy, though Sandy hit a far more densely populated area in our Eastern Seaboard. Nonetheless, Typhoon Bopha (also named Pablo) is a devastating tropical of unusual size and wind speed, particularly for a tropical storm so close to the Equator. Most typhoons in the Northwest Pacific appear at higher latitudes. In that sense Bopha does share something with Hurricane Sandy, which struck much farther north than most hurricanes that originate in the Atlantic or the Caribbean. Typhoons and hurricanes close to the Equator are considered extremely rare, much less a Category 5 storm such as Bopha.Typhoon Bopha shares another thing with Hurrican Sandy - both occurred near the end or outside the typical tropical storm season for their respective geographical regions: Sandy in late October and Bopha in early December.
In any case, Typhoon Bopha is another extreme weather event for 2012, to go with so many others this year: wildfires in Chile, heat waves and severe droughts across the Western and Midwestern US this year, wildfires in the Western US, extreme snowstorms in Eurasia, Japan and Alaska, damaging derecho thunderstorms in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions of the US, flooding and landslides in Brazil, severe storms and flooding in Australia(the most recent in November), the extreme droughts in Africa, specifically the deadly one in the Sahel region, The warmest winter on record in the Continental US to go with one of the coldest on record in Europe, record sea ice loss in the Arctic, record ice melting in Greenland, etc.
All of these many extreme weather events caused death, destruction and economic losses. Typhoon Bopha is just another example that our "weird" weather is truly global and that to refer to it as "weird" is now an oxymoron. This is our new planetary normal. Yet we continue to pump gigatons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, the principal driver of climate change, and the reason climate scientists accept that such extreme weather events are linked to climate change and will continue to occur on and ever more regular basis.