Manila Braces for Direct Hit From Dangerous Typhoon

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
July 15 2014 1:55 PM

Manila Braces for Direct Hit From Dangerous Typhoon

One of the biggest cities in Asia is hours away from a direct typhoon hit.

Typhoon Rammasun—a Siamese word meaning “thunder god”—made landfall in the eastern Philippines late Tuesday local time, with sustained winds of 125 miles per hour. A video posted on Facebook from Sorsogon City—near the point of landfall—showed an intense scene.

Advertisement

On Wednesday, the storm will approach Manila as a slightly weaker typhoon. Rammasun—called Glenda in the Philippines—is quite likely the strongest storm to hit the capital since 2006, when the one-two punch of Xangsane and Durian killed hundreds. Thousands of families were evacuated this week from high-risk areas across the country as Manila—which is about the size of New York City—braced for an impact that could prove to be one of the costliest storms in Philippine history.

Typhoon Rammasun

By Wednesday, a foot of rain is possible in Manila, prompting fears of urban flooding and mudslides. PAGASA, the Philippine weather service, predicts coastal storm surge exceeding 10 feet. The agency has placed metro Manila in a Signal 3 warning, the country’s highest typhoon warning.

The typhoon rapidly strengthened in the hours leading up to landfall and continued to strengthen over the eastern archipelago. Instantaneous satellite measurements were even stronger than official estimates, indicating the storm may have had sustained winds as strong as 140 mph at its peak. The storm traversed some of the warmest ocean waters on the planet during its quick strengthening phase, which are right now running a degree or two warmer than usual.

After its impact in the Philippines, Rammasun is expected to rapidly re-intensify and make a second landfall late this week in the Hainan Province of China, and a third landfall this weekend near Hanoi, Vietnam.

FT-140715-manila1
Typhoon Rammasun will directly strike Manila on Wednesday before reaching Vietnam this weekend.

Image: Joint Typhoon Warning Center

Rammasun is the first typhoon to make landfall in the Philippines since Haiyan last year. Haiyan’s landfall in the central part of the country was the strongest ever recorded anywhere on Earth, and its 30-foot storm surge was likely the highest on record for anywhere in Asia. Hundreds of families still living in tents were evacuated earlier this week in preparation for Rammasun’s landfall.

Manila is already known for its vulnerability to flooding, which is expected to worsen in the coming decades. As global warming brings rising seas, there are fears the city is sitting at the front lines of future catastrophe. A major U.N. report earlier this year mentioned a link between frequent Philippine typhoon strikes and a reduced ability to adapt to climate change. From the Guardian:

Tens of thousands of people in Manila live in shanty towns that are in the way of the floods. These people will be the most vulnerable. What the IPCC report means is that those areas that are not already flooded when it rains heavily will be in future. Everything will become more extreme. Subsidence will be exacerbated, high temperatures will become unbearable. These days 32C (90F) is common and lots of people still do not have fridges—so food will go off. Climate change will slow down economic growth, further erode food security, trigger new poverty traps and create hotspots of hunger.

Yeb Saño, the Philippines’ lead climate negotiator, made headlines last fall when he launched a hunger strike at the U.N. climate summit in protest of continued global inaction on global warming, just hours after Haiyan’s landfall.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Eric Holthaus is a meteorologist who writes about weather and climate for Slate’s Future Tense. Follow him on Twitter.

TODAY IN SLATE

The Juice

Ford’s Big Gamble

It’s completely transforming America’s best-selling vehicle.

Should the United States Grant Asylum to Victims of Domestic Violence?

The Apple Watch Will Make Everyone Around You Just a Little Worse Off

This Was the First Object Ever Designed

Don’t Expect Adrian Peterson to Go to Prison

In much of America, beating your kids is perfectly legal. 

Moneybox

How the Apple Watch Will Annoy Us

A glowing screen attached to someone else’s wrist is shinier than all but the blingiest jewels.

Music

A Little Bit Softer Now, a Little Bit Softer Now …

The sad, gradual decline of the fade-out in popular music.

Is Everyone Going to Declare Independence if Scotland Does It? 

I Tried to Write an Honest Profile of One of Bollywood’s Biggest Stars. It Didn’t Go Well.

Trending News Channel
Sept. 12 2014 11:26 AM Identical Twins Aren’t Really Identical
  News & Politics
Jurisprudence
Sept. 14 2014 2:37 PM When Abuse Is Not Abuse Don’t expect Adrian Peterson to go to prison. In much of America, beating your kids is perfectly legal. 
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 12 2014 5:54 PM Olive Garden Has Been Committing a Culinary Crime Against Humanity
  Life
Inside Higher Ed
Sept. 13 2014 8:38 AM “You’re More Than Just a Number” Goucher College goes transcript-free in admissions.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 12 2014 4:05 PM Life as an NFL Wife: “He's the Star. Keep Him Happy.”
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 12 2014 5:55 PM “Do You Know What Porn Is?” Conversations with Dahlia Lithwick’s 11-year-old son.
  Arts
Music
Sept. 14 2014 11:44 PM A Little Bit Softer Now, a Little Bit Softer Now … The sad, gradual decline of the fade-out in popular music.
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 12 2014 3:53 PM We Need to Pass Legislation on Artificial Intelligence Early and Often
  Health & Science
New Scientist
Sept. 14 2014 8:38 AM Scientific Misconduct Should Be a Crime It’s as bad as fraud or theft, only potentially more dangerous.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 12 2014 4:36 PM “There’s No Tolerance for That” Pete Carroll and Jim Harbaugh say they don’t abide domestic abuse. So why do the Seahawks and 49ers have a combined six players accused of violence against women?