Storm in the Pacific Ocean intensifies in the first super typhoon of the year

Strong winds and high waves hit eastern Philippines on Monday, when the strongest typhoon on record in April passed in the Pacific Ocean, killing a man and causing flooding in lower communities, disaster officials said.

The national meteorological agency issued a warning of strong wind and heavy rain on Monday, saying that “destructive winds with typhoon force extend up to 110 km (68.35 miles) from the center of the storm”.

More than 100,000 people have been evacuated from coastal areas, according to provincial disaster agencies.

The Surigae core, or Bising as the storm is known locally, is unlikely to reach the land. But with a diameter of 500 km and winds reaching 195 km per hour, parts of the eastern islands of Samar have been flooded, while several communities have been without power.

The first super typhoon of 2021 heralds an intense storm season for the region next year, experts say.

“The first indications are that the typhoon season of 2021 will have at least average activity and possibly above average,” wrote American meteorologist Jeff Masters in a post on the Yale Climate Connections website, which reports daily on weather conditions.

Atmospheric scientists say the data show that storms, called typhoons, cyclones or hurricanes in different parts of the world, are getting stronger because of global warming.

“The fuel for these storms is hot oceans,” said Anne-Claire Fontan, a scientific officer at the World Meteorological Organization based in Geneva.

“The global trend is that they are getting stronger and a larger percentage of the total storms will be stronger.”

A warmer atmosphere retains more moisture, allowing strong winds to pour more rain. In particular, the water temperature in the western Pacific Ocean is higher than the global average, making it a breeding ground for megatests like Surigae. The region sees more storms than any other part of the world, more than 70% of which occur at the peak of the season between July and October.

Disaster officials said a 79-year-old man from the southern Philippine province of Leyte was confirmed dead after he was hit by a fallen tree and a person was missing.

The Philippines sees about 20 tropical storms annually. Last year, the strongest typhoon of the year, Goni, hit the country with gusts of up to 310 km per hour, killing 25 people and forcing the evacuation of more than 345,000.

Meanwhile, Taiwan hopes the storm will bring the rain it needs to alleviate the drought, with people logging on to social media to greet it. However, he is expected to deviate from Taiwan to the Pacific, bringing rain only to the northern part of the island later this week.

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