October 19, 2015 by Stephen Bentley
As Typhoon Lando (international name Koppu) now moves slowly away from the Philippines it would be remiss of me not to thank all my family and friends who sent me messages yesterday expressing concern for me and my family here in the Philippines. It was greatly appreciated and touching. I messaged them back to tell them we were fine. I added that in Bacolod we were experiencing the outer rain bands of the cyclonic system with its strong squalls and sudden heavy downpours of rain which can last from anything from 2 – 3 minutes to 30 minutes or so. This is repeated throughout the day and night. However that is nothing compared to its effects in northern Luzon province.
One factor in inquiring after our welfare in the light of the typhoon is an understandable lack of awareness as to the size of the Philippines. Baler is one of the worst affected areas. It is about 1000 kilometers (621 miles) as ‘the crow flies’ from Bacolod in Western Visayas to Baler. To put it another way it is like driving I-95 from Jacksonville FL to Baltimore MD! I have marked Bacolod and the area of Luzon worst affected by this typhoon on the map below.
Weather can be both scary and fascinating at the same time. I have written before about the weather in the Philippines compared with Britain and this local ‘light touch’ from the typhoon reminded me of yet another difference.
I am able to sit out on my roof terrace and know when the next squally downpour is about to arrive. Looking up to the tops of the trees some 50 – 150 meters distant I see the them bending over in the wind. Yet all is tranquil on my terrace. Wait! What is that noise? It is like an army of miniature soldiers with tiny feet rushing towards me as they race furiously on the tin roofs of the houses between the now horizontal tree tops and me. These are not soldiers of some Lilliputian army but rain drops the size of a fat man’s thumb. They seem to be in such a hurry to catch me unawares. Time for me to gather my things and go indoors!
Witnessing our current local weather is a constant reminder of the plight of the people directly affected by this and other typhoons. Just like other like minded people throughout the world, the victims of the typhoon are in my thoughts and prayers.
This latest typhoon to strike the Philippines also raised a number of questions in my mind so I thought I would address them here.
What is the Difference between a Typhoon, Cyclone and Hurricane?
None is the simple answer. They are all large storm systems with the same features but the name of typhoon, cyclone or hurricane depends on which part of the world the system originates.
What are they?
A typhoon is a type of large storm system having a circular or spiral system of violent winds, typically hundreds of kilometers or miles in diameter. The winds spiral around a region of low atmospheric pressure. “Typhoon” is the name of these storms that occur in the Western Pacific. “Hurricane” is the name given to these storms in the Atlantic Ocean and Eastern Pacific. In the Indian Ocean, they are called “Tropical Cyclones”. For stronger typhoons, a characteristic structure called the “eye” forms when the maximum wind speeds exceed about 85 miles per hour, or 140 kilometers per hour. The eye is a region of clear air with no clouds, and is a few tens of kilometers in diameter. The energy that powers typhoons comes from the evaporation of warm ocean water. The water vapor rises to the top of the typhoon along the sides of the eye, then condenses into clouds. Warmer ocean water produces more powerful typhoons, which can grow into “super typhoons”.
I found researching that informative and I hope you found it to be of assistance.
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