Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.
By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:30 PM GMT on December 01, 2006
At least 388 people have died in the Philippines due to the landfall of devastating Typhoon Durian, which slammed ashore in the central Philippine Islands yesterday. Durian hit extreme southern Luzon Island in the province of Albay as a Category 4 storm with sustained winds of 145 mph. The typhoon passed directly over Mayon, the most active volcano in the Philippines and one of the country's most famous tourist attractions because of its near-perfect cone. Loose rock that the volcano had deposited in a July eruption rushed down the slopes in the form of deadly mudslides, thanks to Durian's torrential rains. Estimates from NASA's TRMM satellite of the rain amounts were 8-12 inches in a 24 hours period. The mudslides swept into villages and rivers at the foot of the Mayon Volcano. Evacuations of the villages had not been ordered, since the region had never before experienced severe mudslides from a typhoon.
Next, Durian hit the island of Marinduque as a Category 3 typhoon with sustained winds of 120 mph. Virtually every building on the island was damaged or destroyed, and Durian was judged the worst typhoon ever to hit the island. In all, the death toll from Durian makes this storm more deadly than Typhoon Xangsane, which killed 218 people in the Philippines on September 27. Durian is the fourth major typhoon to hit the Philippines this year.
Figure 1. Visible satellite image from NASA's Aqua satellite of Typhoon Durian from 05 GMT November 30, 2006 (1pm local time in the Philippines). The Mayon volcano was in the southern eyewall underneath an impressive tower of high cumulonimbus clouds at the time. Image credit: NASA.
Durian is now a weakening Category 1 typhoon over the South China Sea, and is expected to weaken further as it continues westwards towards Vietnam. A large area of dry air over the region should reduce Durian to tropical storm strength by the time it reaches Vietnam on Monday, where it is not expected to do significant damage.
I'll save my discussion of why the 2006 hurricane season was so mild for next week. Expect a short update on Durian Saturday.
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