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EarthSky // Today's Image Release Date: Nov 08, 2013

Why Super Typhoon Haiyan was so powerful

Low wind shear and warm ocean temperatures exist in the Pacific now. That’s why Haiyan grew into one of the strongest – perhaps the strongest – storm ever recorded.

View larger. | Plotted here is the average Tropical Cyclone Heat Potential product for October 28 - November 3, 2013, taken directly from NOAA View. This dataset, developed by NOAA/AOML, shows the total amount of heat energy available for the storm to absorb, not just on the surface, but integrated through the water column. Deeper, warmer pools of water are colored purple, though any region colored from pink to purple has sufficient energy to fuel storm intensification. The dotted line represents the best-track and forecast data as of 16:00 UTC on November 7, 2013.  Image and caption via NOAA Visualization Laboratory.

View larger. | According to NOAA, deep warm water fueled Haiyan’s intensification. Plotted here is the average Tropical Cyclone Heat Potential product for October 28 – November 3, 2013, taken directly from NOAA View. This dataset, developed by NOAA/AOML, shows the total amount of heat energy available for [a] storm to absorb, not just on the surface, but integrated through the water column. Deeper, warmer pools of water are colored purple, though any region colored from pink to purple has sufficient energy to fuel storm intensification. Image and caption via NOAA Visualization Laboratory.

The U.S. Navy’s Joint Typhoon Warning Center said earlier this week it expected Super Typhoon Haiyan to weaken as it crossed the ocean to the Philippines. Instead, Haiyan intensified and accelerated as it moved closer to Philippines and ultimately made landfall today. Why?

According to NOAA’s Visualization Laboratory, deep warm water in the Pacific fueled Haiyan’s intensification.

NOAA said that “ideal” environmental conditions for intensification – namely low wind shear and warm ocean temperatures – exist in the Pacific now. Those conditions allowed Haiyan to grow into one of the strongest – perhaps the strongest – storm ever recorded.

Read more: Super Typhoon Haiyan pounds the Philippines

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