In the central Philippines, Typhoon Haiyan roared through on Friday. At first, officials warned of a chaotic landscape of overturned vehicles and knocked down homes and trees, and said that a thousand people might have died.
Now, late Saturday, officials have had a chance to find out more about the area of destruction. As a result, the numbers took a sudden big jump. The number of deaths is now estimated at 10,000 at minimum. Could it rise to 20,000 or to 30,000? It may take another couple days to answer that.
This is not a tremendous surprise if you are paying attention. If you were thinking of Sandy and the fairly small death toll there, no, that is not the same world as the central Philippines. Sandy was a minimal hurricane that quickly lost wind speed. Haiyan was a super typhoon with wind speeds around 190. That's 120 mph faster than Sandy. The houses in the central Phillipines, they can't take that kind of wind.
It's another extreme weather event to add to the list. The list is getting long, guys. Give me the names of five tropical storms in recorded history with higher wind speeds, please? Can't do that? that's because, according to Wikipedia, Haiyan had the fourth highest wind speed ever recorded in a tropical cyclone. You might keep this in mind the next time a global warming denialist assures you that tropical storms are not any stronger than they were a century ago.
The other point to be made here is that extreme weather events (other than tornadoes which effect primarily the USA) are going to cause much more death in the third world than they will cause in North America. No building codes for hurricane proof homes in the Philippines.
Meanwhile, Haiyan is wandering off to make landfall in Vietnam. But it's down to category 3, so the mortality numbers there will probably be much smaller.