Hurricane Sandy is like our Typhoon Signal Number 3, according to Renito Paciente, officer-in-charge of Pagasa’s marine meteorological services section.
He explained to me that Hurricane Sandy has sustained winds of 74 to 95 mph (miles per hour). In the metric system which we use, this would be equivalent to 119 to 153 kilometers per hour (kph).
In the US, Sandy is a Category 1 hurricane, but if something similar to Sandy were to batter Philippine shores, Pagasa would raise Signal No. 3, defined as “Tropical cyclone winds of 100 kmh (62 mph) to 185 kmh (115 mph) expected within the next 18 hours.”
I became curious at how powerful Sandy really was, since the American media had taken to calling it a “Frankenstorm”. And then photos were shared online by New York City residents, looking so eerily similar to scenes in Typhoon Frank (2008), Typhoon Ondoy (2009), Typhoon Sendong (2011) and even during the torrential rains last August.
Difference between a hurricane and a typhoon
Paciente said the intensity of Sandy is similar to that of Typhoon Frank (which is just a bit stronger with sustained winds of 100 mph) and Typhoon Pedring (85 mph).
But he added that we have been battered by far stronger typhoons such as Loleng (International codename Bab) in 1998 and Typhoon Pepeng (International Code Name Parma) in 2008, both with sustained winds of 120 mph (190 kmh).
Compared to our Typhoon Loleng and Pepeng, however, Typhoon Katrina which devastated the US in 2005 started out as an even stronger storm. It was classified as a Category 5 Atlantic hurricane with sustained winds of 175 mph (280 kmh) and then downgraded to Category 3 when it hit Louisiana and Mississippi.