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25 February 2014

 

Typhoon Committee acts on Haiyan

 

WMO is organizing an expert mission to the Philippines to assess the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, consider how to help in the rebuilding of meteorological infrastructure destroyed by the tropical cyclone and examine ways of strengthening disaster resilience in the future.

The mission, tentatively scheduled for April 2014, was endorsed by the recent session of Typhoon Committee – a joint body of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and WMO.

The Typhoon Committee meeting, held in Bangkok, Thailand, 10-13 February, discussed the impact of Haiyan (known as Yolanda in the Philippines). The typhoon, which struck the Philippines in November 2013 was one of the strongest tropical cyclones on record. More than 7,000 people were killed, mainly as a result of tsunami-like storm surges.

The Philippines national meteorological service, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), issued regular warnings about the typhoon including tracks, intensity, wind speed and storm-surge. Without these warnings, the tragic loss of life would have been even higher.

Haiyan also made landfall with typhoon intensity in Viet Nam. At the request of the Director-General of the National Hydro-Meteorological Service (NHMS) of Viet Nam, WMO Secretariat organized an emergency response to coordinate the assistance in provision of forecasting and warning information with advanced centers in China, Japan and Hong Kong, China. As a result, Haiyan had limited impacts on Viet Nam in terms of losses of lives and damages to properties. WMO Tropical Cyclone Programme chief, Taoyong Peng, briefed the Typhoon Committee that the emergency response was a successful example in reducing disaster risks through well orchestrated and synergized actions. There will also be a WMO mission to Viet Nam to examine the lessons learnt from the typhoon.

Haiyan Removed from Rotating List

In total there were 31 named tropical cyclones in the Western North Pacific Basin during 2013, above the long term average of 25.6. The basin is the most active in the world for tropical cyclones.

The Typhoon Committee approved the removal of Haiyan, Utor, Fitow and Sonamu which occurred in 2013, from the list of rotating names. Under internationally agreed procedures, there are regional lists of tropical cyclone names used on a rotating basis. The name of a particularly damaging or costly cyclone is removed from the list.

The Committee noted that better observations and numerical prediction modelling of typhoons have improved typhoon track forecasts. It also agreed on initial steps to improve coordination of observations, and cooperative efforts on research, and integration of resources in order to improve forecasts of the intensity of typhoons, especially when they make landfall.

As many typhoon-related damages and casualties are due to storm surges rather than high winds, WMO’s Regional Specialized Meteorological Centre Tokyo Typhoon Centre has started providing storm surge forecasts in the North West Pacific basin and plans to increase the number of time-series storm surge forecasts provided to countries such as the Philippines and Viet Nam.

Given the growing risks of urban flooding from tropical storms and depressions – as witnessed in recent years – the Typhoon Committee also agreed to intensify efforts against urban flood risk management.

China has agreed to take the lead in a new Operational System for Urban Flood Forecasting and Inundation Mapping, with proposed pilot cities in China,  Malaysia, Thailand and Viet Nam.

More information about the UNESCAP/WMO Typhoon Committee and associated activities

 

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