Super storms in Mindanao and Visayas could be harbingers of more to come, climate change agency says, writes Asia Sentinel.

Shifting weather patterns laid to climate change can be expected hit new areas of the Philippines that have not traditionally been in the direct path of typhoons, the Philippine Climate Change Commission has warned.

The nation, comprising about 7,000 islands in the path of fierce storms sweeping in from across broad reaches of the Pacific Ocean, is one of the world’s most vulnerable regions to the depredation of rising sea temperatures. According to the Asian Development Bank, seven of the world’s 10 most exposed countries are in Asia, led by Vanuatu, followed by Tonga and the Philippines third, with millions of people concentrated near the coasts.

Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) Pic: NASA Space Observatory.

More than 20 million people live in the Greater Manila area, much of it vulnerable to heavy flooding, especially as groundwater extraction causes the city to sink. Combined with rising global temperatures, the Philippines faces one of the fastest-rising sea levels in the world, at nearly 12 millimeters a year.

The areas likely to be hit as weather patterns change include parts of the Visayas island complex, where Category 5 Super Typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan killed at least 6,200 people when it came ashore on Nov. 3 with winds gusting up to 300 km per hour. The storm did an estimated US$14 billion worth of damage in economic losses, according to US Rep. Mike Honda, a California congressman, in a recent opinion piece written for the Reuters news service. Human bones continue to wash ashore two months after the storm, with 1,700 people still listed as missing. The Visayas, particularly Cebu and the resort island of Boracay among others, are tourism magnets which could suffer economic harm from the storms.

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