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can someone who is better informed than me compare the typhoon a few weeks back in orissa, India with 12 casualties and this one.

note - this isn't a rhetoric. I genuinely want to understand what is the reason for such a massive difference. I have financial interests in that exact part of India and actually have been thinking that the govt is pretty well prepared (given, well that it is India).

I mentioned this in another thread, but I will regurgitate it here.

I don't consider myself well informed. But I live in the Philippines and I have been in a high wind, light flooding typhoon and a low wind high flooding typhoon. Of the two, the high flooding typhoon caused a lot more damage and loss of life.

You can't make apples to apples comparisons on typhoons. Wind speed isn't necessarily the most destructive factor. Wind creates a lot of damage, but its flooding which creates high casualty counts. The devastating tsunamis we have recently seen is a great example of this.

From this article.


> Most of the deaths appear to have been caused by surging seas that resembled a tsunami, flattening buildings and drowning hundreds, according to Reuters.

It's certainly possible that the region you mentioned in India was better prepared, but I'm guessing that the flooding was worse in the 1999 storm.

The Philippines typhoon was among the strongest to ever hit hand. It neared the theoretical maximum strength of a typhoon. One of the methods used to measure the strength of a typhoon is the Dvorak scale which goes up to 8. At the peak of the storm, it hit 8 and they could no longer measure it. They could only estimate that it went up to as much as 8.2.


Why is there a theoretical maximum strength for a typhoon? What limits them?

I suppose, It's about the environment. There are many factors to consider.

First, logistically speaking, transport, supply and communication lines in the Philippines are hard to establish because we're an archipelago of 7,000+ islands. The unique geography makes it hard for mass evacuations. Go to high areas, suffer landslides and wind damage, stay low, storm surges wipe you out.

I don't know much about the Indian typhoon season, but the Pacific typhoon season, since the 90's on average, starts at January-March and ends at November-December: it doesn't stop. Fortunately we've had good years, such as the 1998 storm season, the first storm system formed started in July at that time. On average, most of the Pacific storm systems hit us every 3 weeks, there are certain months where parts of the country get hit by a typhoon every other week. So almost all resources are poured into constantly getting supply lines and shelters re-established.

Given this, we Filipinos have been taught, even the children, to consider typhoons to be normal and to have their distinct personalities to look out for. I remember back in 2009 that we took a direct hit with Typhoon Ketsana (Ondoy). It wasn't expected to deal that much damage since Hurricane strength is generally associated with wind speed, the measured wind speed wasn't that high. What we didn't we know was that it brought 454.9 mm rainfall in the Metropolis, flooding rural areas in our capital region as high as 4-6meters. Uncertainty is high, resources are low, the islands of Samar and Leyte got hit badly: the eyewall brought in the surge from the east and when the storm passed by, the tail surged the sea inward from the west.

Also, it's hard to get good data. Info and news from the media and government are unorganized, each have their own databases, and not to mention, their own agendas to look good.

Majority of Filipinos consider the lack of financial resources as the biggest factor due to politics and corruption. As mentioned in the comments above, the mayor of the city of Dumaguete can only set aside something like $9,000 USD. Not a lot of resources, considering that's just enough to buy a car here in the Philippines.

The lack of resources and wealth, the difficulty of re-establishing supply lines sets up an environment for such casualties despite preparations.

One important thing to note is that cyclone hit Orissa at low tide. Floods, more than wind speed, seem to be the the important factor. There was flooding some time after Phailin in Andhra Pradesh due to heavy rains and the casualty count was much higher than the cyclone itself. That said, the Orissa government did a good job. There was a terrible cyclone ten years ago with huge devastation, and this time they organized mass evacuations. Hope the disaster relief is strong and the Filipinos get all the help that they will be needing.

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