In a display of enormous tropical power, super Typhoon Haiyan packed more energy than the sum total of all 12 named storms — including two hurricanes — that have formed so far in the Atlantic this hurricane season.
That shows not only how intense the single 195-mile-per-hour Pacific system was, but also how “wimpy” the storm season has been in the Atlantic, said Jim Lushine, a retired National Weather Service forecaster and tropical expert.
“Super typhoons in the western Pacific are much more frequent than hurricanes of equal strength in the Atlantic,” he said. “This is, at least in part, due to the fact that the Pacific is a much larger expanse of warm ocean water.”
Haiyan’s winds were gusting to 235 mph three hours before landfall, “making it the fourth-strongest tropical cyclone in world history,” said Jeff Masters, chief meteorologist of Weather Underground, an online weather site. While the death toll still is being tabulated, it’s feared more than 10,000 people were killed.
The Atlantic hurricane season, which officially ends Nov. 30, has seen mostly short-lived weak storms, the result of an unexpected spate of dry air, wind shear and African dust. The Atlantic basin, on average, produces 12 named storms, including six hurricanes.
The northwest Pacific Ocean, on the other hand, is the world’s most active basin with an average of almost 26 storms per year, including 16 typhoons. With incessantly warm waters, it can produce storms year around, although activity drops off in February and March.