From the Field

2013 Typhoon Haiyan: Facts, FAQs, and how to help

Super Typhoon Haiyan, also known as Super Typhoon Yolanda, made landfall in the Philippines on Nov. 8, 2013, as a Category 5 storm. It laid waste to the Visayas group of islands, the country’s central region and home to 17 million people. Haiyan was the most powerful storm in 2013 and one of the most powerful typhoons of all time.

With wind speeds sustained at more than 150 mph, Haiyan was classified as a super typhoon. However, its massive storm surge was even more destructive. Local officials estimated that Tacloban City on the island of Leyte was 90% destroyed.

The typhoon’s fury affected more than 14 million people across 44 provinces, displacing 4.1 million people, killing more than 6,000 people and leaving 1,800 missing. In addition, Typhoon Haiyan damaged 1.1 million houses, destroyed 33 million coconut trees (a major source of livelihoods), and disrupted the livelihoods of 5.9 million workers. Overall damage is estimated at $5.8 billion.

FAQs: What you need to know about Typhoon Haiyan

Explore Typhoon Haiyan facts and frequently asked questions, and learn how you can help children and families in the Philippines.

Fast facts: Typhoon Haiyan

  • One of the most powerful storms ever tracked, Typhoon Haiyan was a super typhoon with sustained winds of over 150 mph.
  • Leyte Island was buffeted by sustained winds of 195 mph and gusts up to 235 mph.
  • Not only was the storm powerful, but it also occurred after the official typhoon season’s Nov. 1 ending.
  • More than 14 million people were affected by Haiyan.


Why is Typhoon Haiyan also called Typhoon Yolanda?

Typhoon Haiyan was called Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines. The country’s atmospheric sciences agency gave it the name Yolanda.


What is a typhoon?

A typhoon is the same thing as a hurricane and a cyclone — the difference is in the location. Hurricanes occur in the Atlantic and Northeast Pacific. Typhoons, like Haiyan, are found in the Northwest Pacific Ocean. In the South Pacific and the Indian Ocean, the same type of storm is called a cyclone. But scientifically, they are all known as tropical cyclones.

When there’s a bit of weather disturbance, a warm tropical ocean, moisture, and a light wind — conditions may be right to produce a cyclone. By whatever name, these storms can produce violent winds and waves, torrential rains, and flooding.


Why was Typhoon Haiyan a super typhoon?

Haiyan was called a super typhoon for part of its life because of it sustained winds of more than 150 mph. Wind speed, however, is not the only factor that determines the destructiveness of storms. Don’t forget about other associated hazards like storm surge, tornadoes, and flooding.


Where did Typhoon Haiyan hit?

Typhoon Haiyan hit Palau (an island in the western Pacific) and Micronesia first. Then it made landfall in the Philippines as a Category 5 storm with wind speeds above 157 mph. After hitting the Philippines, it diminished as it moved into the South China Sea toward Vietnam, finally disintegrating into rain over Guanxi, China.


Is the Philippines a disaster-prone country?

The Philippines is one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world. The U.N.’s 2017 World Risk Index places the Philippines as the third most at risk of natural disasters among the 171 countries ranked. Vanuatu and Tonga ranked first and second.

Not only is the Philippines at risk for disastrous weather events, but it is also in a hot zone for earthquakes and tsunamis. In fact, only three weeks before Typhoon Haiyan, Bohol island was hit by a 7.2 magnitude earthquake that affected 3 million people in Bohol and Cebu, killing more than 200 people. Many families were still receiving aid and living in evacuation shelters when a second catastrophe hit them — Typhoon Haiyan.


How can I help children and families in the Philippines?

  • Pray for children and families affected by poverty and recurring disasters in the Philippines and other countries in the Asia Pacific region.
  • Sponsor a child in the Philippines. When you sponsor a child, you will help change a child’s life story and the life of their family and community. You’ll provide access to life-saving basics like nutritious food, healthcare, clean water, education, and more.


Typhoon Haiyan timeline

While typhoons can occur at any time of the year, the peak occurrence is in late August and early September. Typhoon Haiyan was the 13th named storm of 2013 in the Northwest Pacific Basin.

  • Nov. 2: The storm is detected as a low-pressure area in Micronesia.
  • Nov. 4: The system is upgraded to a tropical storm and named Haiyan.
  • Nov. 6: It hits Palau and parts of Micronesia. After growing in intensity for days, Typhoon Haiyan became a Category 5 storm, with wind speeds above 157 mph.
  • Nov. 7: Haiyan enters the Philippines area; alerts, preparations, and evacuations intensify.
  • Nov. 8: At 4:40 a.m., Haiyan makes landfall in Eastern Samar at peak capacity. It continues to spread destruction through the Visayas, the Philippines’ central island group.
  • Nov. 9: The storm moves out into the South China Sea, heading toward Vietnam.
  • Nov. 10: Haiyan makes landfall in northeast Vietnam, much diminished, then disintegrates into bands of rain over Guanxi, China.
2013 Typhoon Haiyan_Philippines Typhoon Haiyan’s track through the Philippines and beyond shows the intensity of impact along its route. (2013 map courtesy of REACH Initiative)
Typhoon Haiyan’s track through the Philippines and beyond shows the intensity of impact along its route. (2013 map courtesy of REACH Initiative)


World Vision’s response to Typhoon Haiyan

World Vision has worked in the Philippines since 1954, caring for children and building sustainable communities.

Typhoon Haiyan devastated 20 development project areas where World Vision works, including in Bohol province, which had been badly damaged by an earlier earthquake.

When Typhoon Haiyan hit, our staff were ready to respond. Even as they began to provide emergency relief, a top priority was to reach out to all of the nearly 40,000 children registered in World Vision’ sponsorship program. More than 5,600 children in Leyte and Antique provinces were sponsored by U.S. donors.

“World Vision staff came to our place to check on us. We were asked about what we went through and how we felt,” says Kim, a sponsored child who lives on Panay island. “I felt good after crying my fear out to the staff. She was the first to hear my story because I didn’t want my parents to worry about me.”

The Typhoon Haiyan response covered four areas — North Cebu, Panay, West Leyte, and East Leyte — serving 566 villages in 48 municipalities that were among the hardest hit by Typhoon Haiyan. More than 1.6 million people benefited from World Vision’s work over the three years of the Typhoon Haiyan response.

World Vision responded to Typhoon Haiyan in three phases:

Emergency relief phase: November 2013 to February 2014

  • 789,816 people served
  • Relief work included providing emergency shelter, household goods, food, water and sanitation, education support, health, cash for work and livelihoods support, and child protection

Recovery phase: March 2014 to December 2014

  • 321,403 people served
  • Recovery work included providing shelter, water and sanitation, health, livelihoods and cash-based programming, anti-trafficking programs, disaster risk reduction, and repair and replacement of vital infrastructure

Rehabilitation phase: January 2015 to December 2016

  • 84,727 people served
  • Rehabilitation work included providing shelter, water and sanitation, infrastructure, disaster risk reduction, and livelihoods and cash-based programming


Learn more about typhoons, cyclones, and hurricanes — and how to prepare.

Disaster Relief

View All Stories
An earthquake-damaged building in northwest Syria tilts to the side as people stand on piles of rubble.
From the Field

Earthquakes and tsunamis: Facts, FAQs, and how to help

The Statue of Liberty stands tall amid choppy waters of the Hudson River, under an ominous gray sky.
From the Field

Hurricane Sandy: Facts, FAQs, and how to help


View All Stories
Women carry salvaged building supplies to rebuild their homes in cyclone-ravaged communities.
From the Field

Cyclone Phailin: Facts, FAQs, and how to help

A man carries a large canvas bag with items salvaged from the rubble. A blue sky contrasts the devastation around him.
From the Field

2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami: Facts, FAQs, how to help