Tropical Storm Washi Brings Fatal Mudslides to Philippines
Tropical Storm Washi made landfall on Mindanao Island (Philippines) near Bislig (8.1N, 121.5E) early December 17 and tracked westward across the island crossing directly over the town of Cagayan de Oro on the west coast. The maximum sustained winds at landfall were estimated 60 mph with gusts up to 80 mph and rainfall estimates from 8 to 10 inches on the east coast to 12 to 16 inches along the northwest coast. Devastating mudslides contributed to significant damage and fatalities, especially in the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan City, with up to 1,000 fatalities reported.
Direct economic damages are expected to primarily from property damage, as much of the harvest is complete in this primarily agricultural area. Insured losses are expected to be only a fraction of this as insurance penetration is fairly low and insured losses should remain below $100 million USD.
The normal West Pacific Typhoon season generally extends from early April through December, although storms occasionally appear in March and the season can extend into January. Typhoon landfalls in central Mindanao Island are infrequent. This is due to the lower latitude (latitude 8) and the physical properties of typhoons that make lower latitudes less amenable to support this type of storm. Washi becomes the most devastating typhoon in Mindanao in the last 50 years.
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