WHAT will happen if a typhoon as powerful as Yolanda hit Metro Manila?
Utter devastation and chaos, renowned architect Felino “Jun” Palafox Jr. said.
If a typhoon with winds of up to 315 kilometers per hour bore down on the metropolis, many buildings, particularly the old structures, would collapse, he said.
If such an intense typhoon hits and the residents are unprepared, the devastation would be worse than what was seen in Central Visayas.
The same thing would happen if a 7.2-magnitude earthquake shook the metro.
Palafox cited a study conducted in 2004 by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)—the Metro Manila Earthquake Impact Reduction—which said that low-rise buildings are most likely to collapse than high rise structures.
According to the JICA study, at least 40 percent of low-rise buildings and only 2 percent of high-rise buildings would collapse if a strong quake shook Metro Manila.
“The reason for that is high rise buildings were constructed using the right design.
They conducted a geologic study, structure study, earthquake analysis and wind tunnel analysis. While the low rise buildings seemed to have violated the building code,” Palafox told The Manila Times in an interview.
Aside from the damage to structures, Palafox said the study also estimates that more than 30,000 people would die, most of them informal settlers.
At least 34 government offices and seven bridges would collapse and Metro Manila would be divided.
The typhoon that smashed entire villages in the Visayas was considered more powerful than Hurricane Katrina, which killed 1,833 people in the United States in 2005.
Meteorologists consider Yolanda to be the most powerful typhoon to make landfall in history. The Philippines lies smack in the path of typhoons, being on the western rim of the Pacific Ocean, the world’s most active area for tropical cyclones.
Typhoons become super typhoons once they reach maximum sustained winds of at least 240 kilometers per hour.
A super typhoon in the Philippines is equivalent to a Category 4 or 5 hurricane in the Atlantic.
Palafox said that if a Yolanda-like typhoon sliced across Metro Manila, dozens of buildings will be toppled, leading to a “chaotic” scenario.
He called on the government to ensure that structures comply with building codes to minimize loss of lives and damage to property.
Palafox urged the government to review and update the building, structural, and zoning codes, as well as land use and planning policies.
“The government should conduct structural audit immediately. We should update the building code now, that was nine years ago,” he added.
Palafox said structures should not only be resistant to strong quakes but should also withstand the powerful winds of super typhoons.
He explained that under the Building Code, developers are required to ensure that their structures must withstand winds of up to 220 kilometers per hour only.
“But in case there will be strong winds, our buildings are not ready for it, they are not designed well,” Palafox added.
The deadly typhoon and associated storm surge—which survivors have likened to a tsunami—tore through the archipelago last week, killing at least 10,000 people.
“Although individual tropical cyclones cannot be directly attributed to climate change, higher sea levels are already making coastal populations more vulnerable to storm surges. We saw this with tragic consequences in the Philippines,” said Michel Jarraud, the agency’s chief.
Experts say the relationship between climate change and tropical cyclones is still an open question.
Some, though, predict these events will become more powerful and possibly more frequent, too, as a result of global warming.
“Global sea level reached a new record high during March 2013,” the WMO said in its report.
At 3.2 mm (0.12 inches) a year, the current average rise is double the 20th-century trend of 1.6 millimeters (0.06 inches) a year, it said.
The WMO said that in 2012, concentrations of greenhouse gases hit a new high of 393.1 parts per million, a rise of 2.2 parts per million over the previous year and an increase of 41 percent since the start of the Industrial Revolution in 1750.
“We expect them to reach unprecedented levels yet again in 2013. This means that we are committed to a warmer future,” Jarraud declared.
The agency said the first nine months of 2013 tied with 2003 as the seventh warmest such period since modern data collection began in 1850.
Global land and ocean surface temperature of about 0.48 degrees Celsius (0.86 degrees Fahrenheit) above the 1961-1990 average.
Most regions posted above-average temperatures, with notable extremes in
Australia, the north of North America, northeastern South America, North Africa and much of Eurasia.
Emissions of greenhouse gases, chiefly carbon dioxide, are mainly caused by fossil-fuel burning to power industry, transport and farming.
Experts warn that unless more is done to rein them in emissions, the world faces potentially devastating effects.
In addition to megastorms, expect impacts include species extinctions, water shortages, heatwaves or drought, crop die-offs, loss of land to the rising seas as glaciers and polar ice melt, and spreading disease.
With report from AFP