On Tuesday morning, Super Typhoon Meranti became the strongest storm on Earth so far in 2016. Inside the eye wall, the wind roared at a constant 185 mph. That made Meranti the second-strongest typhoon on record in the Northwest Pacific. The only storm that was stronger — by a mere 5 mph — was Typhoon Haiyan, which killed more than 6,000 people in the Philippines in 2013.
Meranti would have been the equivalent of a Category 6 hurricane on Tuesday, if the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale extended beyond five. (It doesn’t.)
In its height, the storm’s eye passed directly over Itbayat, north of the Philippines. The entire, tiny island could be seen through the typhoon’s clear eye early Tuesday afternoon. This means that Itbayat, which had a population around 3,000 in 2010, took two direct hits from the super typhoon’s eye wall, which is where the strongest winds are located.
As of Wednesday afternoon, no one knows what happened on Itbayat. But PAGASA, the Philippine agency akin to the National Weather Service, told a Channel NewsAsia reporter that a military vessel could make the trek to Itbayat to provide aid to survivors:
Pagasa officer Romeo Ganal Jr told Channel NewsAsia that there had been no communication at all from the Pagasa Itbayat satellite station since midnight of Sep 13. There are currently no flights over the area as flight routes have been altered.
With no flights available, a plan has been drawn up for a Civil Defence team to use either a Coast Guard or Navy vessel to go on a fact finding and needs assessment exercise to Itbayat.
Right now there are no more details about when the team will depart, but Pagasa officer Ganal said more information might be available later on in the day.
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SOURCE: The Washington Post, Angela Fritz