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Typhoon 31W (Haiyan) Warning #26
Issued at 09/1500Z
Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda struck the Philippines Friday morning at peak strength. Right now it's headed toward Vietnam, where it will strike in two days as a Category 1/2 storm, raking a significant section of the Vietnamese coast before it moves inland, passing just to the east of Hanoi. The storm could still bring a significant storm surge to the Hanoi region. Here is an updated report from Dr. Jeff Masters at Weather Underground.

Haiyan has left behind complete and total devastation in the central Philippines.

The wind was horrific enough as it struck Leyte and Samar but Haiyan bought another horror apparently unknown in this part of the Philippines: storm surge. The local language apparently doesn't even have a word for the concept and you can see this in watching television livestreams from the region, which switch to English for concepts such as storm surge. Typhoons regularly strike the Philippines every year but generally do so on the large island of Luzon to to the north.

The Philippines have now suffered category 5 strikes almost a year apart on its southern islands.

Storm chaser Josh Morgerman and his team were in Tacloban City when the worst came through. The storm had originally been forecast to pass far enough to the south where they'd experience Category 1 or 2 conditions.

It jogged north at the last moment. Tacloban City, or portions of it, experienced Category 5 wind conditions (or perhaps, I'm seeing suggested, considerable and numerous embedded mesovortices, which are like tornadoes), and with it, a storm surge rivaling and perhaps exceeding that which the Mississippi Gulf Coast experienced with Hurricane Katrina in 2005, a considerably weaker cyclone. We know it experienced wind conditions exceeding 155 miles an hour sustained based on the some of the images showing trees have been debarked and solid concrete structures smashed flat. The United States has not seen a hurricane do that within its borders since 1992.

First off, Tacloban City is devastated. The city is a horrid landscape of smashed buildings and completely defoliated trees, with widespread looting and unclaimed bodies decaying in the open air. The typhoon moved fast and didn't last long-- only a few hours-- but it struck the city with absolutely terrifying ferocity. At the height of the storm, as the wind rose to a scream, as windows exploded and as our solid-concrete downtown hotel trembled from the impact of flying debris, as pictures blew off the walls and as children became hysterical, a tremendous storm surge swept the entire downtown. Waterfront blocks were reduced to heaps of rubble. In our hotel, trapped first-floor guests smashed the windows of their rooms to keep from drowning and screamed for help, and we had to drop our cameras and pull them out on mattresses and physically carry the elderly and disabled to the second floor.
Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda, at landfall on Leyte
Haiyan at landfall. Tacloban City is toward the top of the L-shaped bay area on the island of Leyte.
The team shot this video. It is disturbing.

At least 1,200 are dead and this number will most definitely rise into the many thousands. Tacloban is the only location where reports have been received. Of locations in eastern Samar to Tacloban City's east, where the typhoon first struck, there has been little or no contact as of the time that I wrote this diary.

Please consider the following charities

The Philippines Red Cross

Shelter Box. This site raised over $100,000 for Shelter Box in the wake of the Port-au-Prince earthquake. We can do it again.

Portlight. Portlight helps those with disabilities and other vulnerable populations. We saw with Hurricane Sandy and how the disabled community was left behind. Elderly people were particularly effected in Sandy, they comprise a significant number of those who died.

This is a local charity recommended in the comments below by CroneWit. Please also go see the diaries of OldPotSmuggler who has family in the region hit by the typhoon. Food is especially needed.

This is a comprehensive list from a Filipino media organization that includes charities available for people not in the Philippines.

James Reynolds writes at the iCyclone facebook page that meteorologically this was a fascinating event. He also writes that from a human standpoint, especially now seeing the disturbing images coming out of the Philippines, this will be difficult to process.

Please consider helping out if you can.

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