Typhoons: Storm-surge models helped for Hagupit

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The Philippine government learned from shortcomings in the preparations for Typhoon Haiyan in 2013 (see R. Lejano et al. Nature 518, 35; 2015, and A. M. F. Lagmay et al. Int. J. Disaster Risk Reduct. 11, 112; 2015) and was able to limit the damage that last December's Typhoon Hagupit might otherwise have caused.

For example, storm surges during Haiyan extended inland by an unanticipated 2 kilometres. Specific warnings of surges of up to 5.5 metres were issued two days before Haiyan's landfall, and were broadcast on prime-time television by the country's president. Despite this, the warnings proved inadequate because the variability of coastal landscapes makes it impossible to judge inundation extent on the basis of storm-surge heights alone.

Following the 2013 disaster, Project NOAH (run by the Philippine government's Department of Science and Technology) prepared storm-surge inundation maps for all its coastal provinces, modelled using high-resolution topography. These detailed maps, along with advance warning, helped to mitigate the loss of life when Hagupit's storm surges destroyed at least 1,800 homes at the end of 2014.

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  1. National Institute of Geological Sciences, University of the Philippines Diliman, Quezon City, the Philippines.

    • Alfredo Mahar Lagmay
  2. University of Twente, Enschede, the Netherlands.

    • Norman Kerle

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