The Most Intense Typhoons – Watts Up With That?


By Paul Homewood


In his evidence to the Energy & Climate Change Committee in 2014, which I covered earlier, David King claimed:

The most intense hurricane ever to hit land was Hurricane Haiyan”, the typhoon which hit the Philippines in 2013.

There has been much controversy about such claims, which are based on satellite estimates, that have of course only been widely available since the 1980s. Prior to satellites, monitoring of typhoons in the Western Pacific relied on airplanes, which were not able to cover the full ocean, and which also avoided direct contact with the strongest typhoons, for obvious reasons. Before that we only had land based anemometers, which were rarely located at the point of highest wind speeds, and which in any event would not survive such high wind speeds.

That is why the most important measurement in pre-satellite days was always central pressure. And here we find that Haiyan was a long way from being the most intense typhoon.


Far from being the most intense, Haiyan is way down the list. There have been twenty four Western pacific typhoons which have been more intense than Haiyan, which is also tied with 16 others at 895 hPa. In other words, Haiyan only makes the top 51.

This list only dates back to 1927, so there have doubtlessly been many other, more intense typhoons on record before.

And it is not only Haiyan. Typhoon Goni, which hit the Philippines last year, is said to be the most intense landfalling storm, with winds of 195 mph. Yet its central pressure never got below 905 hPa, which does not even put it in the top 80 Western Pacific typhoons. There is clearly a disconnect between claimed wind speeds and central pressure.

It is true that pressure is not the only determinant of wind speed. Small, tightly wound cyclones can have high wind speeds because their isobars are closer together.

However, global warming theory predicts that warmer oceans will lead to more intense hurricanes, as measured by pressure. Clearly in the Western Pacific at least, this theory falls flat on its face.


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