Latest Stories

2007 study foretold Yolanda-type disaster


A Supertyphoon “Yolanda” survivor carries his belongings through the ruins of Tacloban City on his way back to his temporary shelter Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013. A 2007 study funded by the United Nations Development Program foretold the impact of storm surges inundating the coastal communities of Leyte, its worst case scenario practically mirroring the devastation that Supertyphoon “Yolanda” wrought on the province two weeks ago. AP PHOTO/DAVID GUTTENFELDER

MANILA, Philippines—A 2007 study funded by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) foretold the impact of storm surges inundating the coastal communities of Leyte, its worst case scenario practically mirroring the devastation that Supertyphoon “Yolanda” wrought on the province two weeks ago.

The study, which was disseminated to village leaders and school teachers in Leyte that year, raised the possibility of three- to six-meter storm surges inundating coastal villages, based on models of two of the biggest storms that struck the province before Yolanda, or “Haiyan,” its international name.

It designed a hazard model projecting the worst case of “the coastal barangays of Leyte [experiencing] a high level of storm surges ranging from 3.0 meters to 6.0 meters, where the actual surges were computed over the highest tide.”

According to reports post-Yolanda coming from Tacloban City and other coastal towns of Leyte, water levels in some areas reached six to seven meters, about the height of a two-story building, when Yolanda ripped through the province.

Hazard mapping of Leyte

The study, “Storm Surge Hazard Mapping of Leyte,” was conducted by scientists from the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa): Wilfredo Tuazon of the Instruments Development and Research Unit, Nestor Nimes of the Geophysics and Air-Sea Interaction Research Unit and Julie Nimes of the Atmospheric Sciences Research Unit.

It is part of a larger UNDP project called “Hazard Mapping and Assessment for Effective Community-Based Disaster Risk Management,” or the Ready Project, which covers 18 provinces vulnerable to natural hazards, including storm surges, earthquakes and landslides.

According to the study, the storm surge is the least known of the natural calamities regularly afflicting the country, but in many instances “is the most destructive and accounts for a significant fraction of the total damage.”

Abnormal sea rise

The authors define a “storm surge” as the abnormal and temporary rise in sea level at the coast produced by an intense tropical cyclone.”

“Like the tidal wave and tsunami, it is also a wave, but each is generated by different natural causes. While tsunami is associated with earthquakes and a tidal wave is the result of the gravitational attraction of the sun and the moon on the earth, a storm surge is generated by an intense tropical cyclone,” it said.

Strong winds and the lowering of atmospheric pressure associated with an intense tropical cyclone act as the main forces that produce storm surges, the study said.

In the Philippines, the recorded incidents of storm surges have been associated with the landfall or crossing of typhoons or storms. Tropical cyclones that exit from a land to the sea also generate storm surge, it said.

The authors said they used two notable typhoons as their reference for their investigation: Typhoon “Undang” in November 1984 and Typhoon “Ruping” in November 1990.

They also conducted surveys on historical storm surges associated with tropical storms or typhoons from the residents who lived at the target area for more than 20 years and were actually at the site during the onslaught of the typhoon or typhoons.

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Leyte , study , Supertyphoon Yolanda , UN

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94


  • Bus kills pedestrian before falling into Olongapo City ravine – report
  • Bernice Lee arrested by NBI team
  • Group: Bataan cop killed to stop him from exposing colleagues linked to drug ring
  • Chemical Engineer licensure examination
  • Troubled history fuels Japan-China tension
  • Sports

  • NLEX fights off Derulo Accelero to remain unbeaten
  • Mayweather diehard Bieber eats pride, poses with Pacquiao for photo op
  • Power Pinays rip Singapore to enter quarters in Asian volley tilt
  • PBA D-League: Waves edge skidding Superchargers
  • Ilad’s last-second basket lifts Gems over Bakers
  • Lifestyle

  • Miss America: Don’t suspend teen over prom invite
  • Transitions and resurrection in the performing arts
  • ‘Archaeology tour’ of Cebu’s heritage of faith
  • Historic Fort Bonifacio tunnel converted into a septic tank
  • ‘Imports’ from London, and play of the year
  • Entertainment

  • Arrest warrants out vs. Deniece Cornejo, Cedric Lee, et al over serious illegal detention
  • Lindsay Lohan says she had a miscarriage
  • Discovery network cancels Everest jump
  • ‘Captain America’ stays strong atop US box office
  • Easter musings
  • Business

  • Century Pacific Food sets IPO price at P13.75 per share
  • Oil prices down in quiet Asian trade
  • Asian shares mixed in holiday-thinned trade
  • BDO seen keen on bidding for Cocobank
  • Bataan freeport investment pledges up 1,302%
  • Technology

  • PH has slowest internet in Southeast Asia
  • Nintendo’s trailblazing Game Boy marks 25th anniversary
  • Nasa’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down
  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Opinion

  • Gigi’s home
  • Palace stonewalls on MRT inquiry
  • Couple of things too
  • There is plenty of water behind Wawa Dam
  • Triduum thoughts of a young boy
  • Global Nation

  • Balikatan could spoil peace talks, says militant group
  • DFA officers hold workshop on aiding human traffic victims
  • Canada in communication with PH on toxic wastes
  • Filipinos in Middle East urged not to panic amid MERS-CoV scare
  • Obama on mission to quiet Asia skeptics
  • Marketplace