‘Lawin’ may hit the Philippines as a Super Typhoon

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super typhoon lawin
An SSEC Himawari satellite picture of Lawin, international name Haima. (right) (image credit: Rodion M. Herrera/Facebook)

As typhoon Karen (international name “Sarika”) made its landfall over Aurora, Philippines early Sunday morning, another storm is brewing just outside the country’s area of responsibility that could become, as weather experts predict, a super typhoon.

Typhoon Lawin (international name Haima), is starting to make its presence known and is now developing in the Pacific ocean. It was recently spotted just southwest of Guam and is expected to intensify by the middle of the week into a threatening super typhoon.

Lawin, the name given by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) could follow Karen’s path and might pose a threat to the regions in Luzon, Philippines and continue to Taiwan and southern China by the end of the week.

Further weather monitoring suggests that Lawin’s intensity and strength might increase in the western Pacific ocean and has the biggest possibility of reaching the super typhoon status, before entering the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) on Monday.

Experts also emphasized that the current low wind shear and warm ocean contributed to Lawin’s doubled intensity. High pressure will set Lawin’s direction to the northern part of the country late Wednesday of Thursday with sustained winds of 150 mph or stronger.

What to expect

Authorities warned the public and stressed that aside from dangerous storm surge and strong winds, everyone should also be prepared for rainfall flooding and the landslides that come with it.

Since Lawin will mostly like follow the same route as recent typhoon Karen, further effects and threats might be doubled from this combination.

Lawin could be more destructive, and according to Weather Underground (Wunderground), a California-based commercial weather service provider, Lawin might reach a status of Category 5 (super typhoon) with winds of 251 kilometers per hour (kph) even before reaching the northernmost part of the Philippines.

“Excellent environmental conditions will persist and support rapid intensification as the cyclone tracks northwestward into the Philippine Sea, reaching super typhoon strength at 135 knots or about 251 kph  [in 72 hours]”, Wunderground added.

Tropical cyclone scales

Officially, tropical cyclones are ranked on five scales based on the maximum sustained winds and the tropical cyclone basins they are located in.

Last year, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) formally included the super typhoon (STY) category to categorize a tropical cyclone.

According to the weather bureau, one of the reasons for such classification is to recognize the strength and intensity of weather disturbances as well as the severity of its effect on the community.

It can be remembered that PAGASA used to assign storm classifications based only on three categories until the tragic devastations of Yolanda (Haiyan) in 2013.

The term, “super typhoon” became widely used by both local and international media to refer to powerful storms similar to Yolanda.

Four-category classification

In the Philippines, tropical cyclones like Lawin can now be classified in four categories:

  • Tropical Depression (TD)

TD harnesses a maximum sustained winds of up to 61 kilometers per hour (kph)

  • Tropical Storm (TS)

TS on the other hand will have sustained winds of 62 to 118 kph.

  • Typhoon (TY)

Speeds ranging from 118 to 220 kph will be classified as a typhoon.

  • Super Typhoon

Lastly, a super typhoon will have sustained winds of more than 220 kph