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As Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) continues its destructive path across the central Philippines, it has already gained infamy as the strongest storm ever known to make landfall and the fourth strongest storm ever recorded in the world.
"(Yolanda is) the strongest tropical cyclone on record to make landfall in world history," stressed weather website wunderground.com's Dr. Jeff Masters.
Citing figures from the US-based Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC), Masters said that Yolanda's average strength of 195 mph (314 kph) at landfall beat the previous record set in 1969 by Hurricane Camille, which carried 190 mph (306 kph) winds when it landed in Mississippi in the US.
However, not all storms are at their peak strength when they hit land. Although Yolanda has set the all-time record for landfall strength, it is not the overall strongest typhoon ever known—but even so, it isn't far behind.
In terms of overall strength, Yolanda is officially the fourth strongest tropical cyclone in world history, according to Masters. He said that the all-time record is still held by Super Typhoon Nancy in 1961 at 215 mph (346 kph), followed by Super Typhoon Violet in the same year at 205 mph (323 kph), and Super Typhoon Ida in 1958 with 200 mph (322 kph).
"(Yolanda) is one of the most intense tropical cyclones in world history," Masters said in a separate entry.
Off the charts
Off the charts
Meanwhile, meteorologist and weather journalist Eric Holthaus was awed that Yolanda went off the charts as it approached the Philippines.
He pointed out that the US' National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) had issued a bulletin saying that the storm's intensity could no longer be tracked using the widely-used Dvorak storm intensity scale.
"DVORAK TECHNIQUE MAKES NO ALLOWANCE FOR AN EYE EMBEDDED SO DEEPLY IN CLOUD TOPS AS COLD AS (THIS)," the bulletin said.
"That means Haiyan (approached) the theoretical maximum intensity for any storm, anywhere. Put another way, the most commonly used satellite-based intensity scale just wasn’t designed to handle a storm this strong," Holthaus explained.
"(I've) never seen that before," he added.
Meanwhile, state weather forecasters in the Philippines acknowledge that Yolanda is the strongest typhoon they've seen in the world all year, at a conservative maximum wind speed estimate of 235 kph at landfall.
"Ito na ang pinakamalakas na bagyong naranasan ngayong taon sa buong mundo," said PAGASA weather forecaster Aldczar Aurelio in an interview on GMA News to Go on Friday.
As of 11 a.m. Friday, PAGASA estimated Yolanda to have slowed slightly to 215 kph as it made its way across Cebu. — KG, GMA News