Hurricane season may be at its end in the Atlantic and eastern Pacific, but the waters of the western Pacific are still teeming with activity. (While the western Pacific basin doesn't assign dates to its hurricane season, storm development peaks from May to November.)
On Tuesday, Super Typhoon Bopha made landfall in Mindanao (the largest island in the Philippines) as a Category 5 storm. While the Philippines is no stranger to tropical storms,áthese typically don't track so far southward in the island chain. Despite this fact, this is the second time in recent years that a typhoon has affected this region. Just last year, Typhoon Washi hit Mindanao causing a death toll of 1,300. Thanks to a more widespread warning this time around, communities were more prepared, a fact that likely helped to save hundreds of lives. Over 300 fatalities are currently being reported.
Having traveled to 7.4░N latitude, Bopha is the second most southerly super typhoon and Category 5 typhoon on record (behind Typhoon Kate in 1970, and Typhoon Louise in 1964, respectively). Storms rarely form this close to the equator because the Coriolis force (the flow of winds to the right) is weakest here. Without the Coriolis effect, tropical cyclones have a hard time generating their trademark spin.
Bopha is also the strongest cyclone to hit Mindanao in the last 20 years.
Currently a Category 1 typhoon off the west coast of Palawan, Bopha is expected to weaken over the South China Sea by week's end.
Image credit: NASA