As forecast, Typhoon Koppu continues to gain strength. The storm is chugging along to the Philippines and could be the strongest storm to make landfall over the island nation in two years.

Koppu — or Lando as it’s known in the Philippines — was generating sustained winds up to 104 mph with gusts as high as 125 mph. The storm is expected to continue strengthening as it nears the Philippines with winds reaching near 140 mph by late Saturday, local time in the Philippines.

That would make it a Category 4 on the Saffir-Simpson scale. Wind damage as well as storm surge on the eastern coast of Luzon pose dual threats, but the biggest concern with Koppu continues to be the torrential rains it is likely to bring. Forecasts indicate that the storm will stall over the island. Even though its winds will weaken, the storm could bring upwards of 2 feet of rain over the course of two days to most of northern Luzon. Some areas could see much more. Up to 48 inches of rain is possible in a number of locations with a high water mark of 65 inches (yes, more than 5 feet) of rain in one model forecast.


The 22.7 million living in the Manila area will face up to a foot of rain. Though it’s on the lower end compared to other parts of the Philippines, it could still trigger massive flooding. At Wunderground, Jeff Masters and Bob Henson note that monsoon rains coupled with Tropical Storm Trami in late August 2013 put 60 percent of the city underwater when 24 inches of rain fell in 24 hours.

Even though Manila will miss the worst impacts, widespread mudslides could make roads on other parts of the island impassable.

Typhoons in the Philippines are nothing new. The island chain is the most exposed country in the world to tropical cyclones, the generic term for hurricanes and typhoons. But in recent years, the island chain racked up huge losses with the four costliest disasters in the country’s history all occurring since 2012. That includes Super Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms on record, which caused $10 billion in damage and killed more than 6,300 in November 2013.

Koppu Forecast JTWC

Forecast track of Koppu through the weekend issued on Friday morning.


That’s as much a sign of economic and population growth as it is the severity of the storms that have hit the island chain over the past few years. Whether Koppu gets added to the list remains to be seen.

One thing that is for certain is that Koppu has made 2015 the most intense year-to-date for typhoons in the western Pacific. Accumulated Cyclone Energy, a measure that includes the intensity of all typhoons in a basin rather than just the number of named storms, is the highest it’s been since official record keeping began in 1971. Much of that can be tied to El Niño, which has made conditions in the region favorable for typhoons even while it tamps down activity in the Atlantic, which has had a relatively quiet year.