Nova

Killer Typhoon

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It was the strongest cyclone to hit land in recorded history. On November 8, 2013, Typhoon Haiyan -- what some are calling "the perfect storm" -- slammed into the Philippines, whipping the low-lying and densely-populated islands with 200 mile-per-hour winds and sending a two-story-high storm surge flooding into homes, schools, and hospitals. It wiped villages off the map and devastated cities, including the hard-hit provincial capital Tacloban. Estimates count more than 5,000 dead and millions homeless. What made Haiyan so destructive? In-depth interviews with the meteorologists charged with tracking and forecasting Pacific storms take us inside the anatomy of the typhoon, tracking its progress from its start as a low-pressure area over Micronesia to its deadly landfall and revealing why the Pacific is such fertile ground for cyclones. But that's just part of the story of why this storm was so deadly. With crews on the ground within days of the storm, NOVA reveals how conditions dramatically deteriorated in the storm's aftermath, as impassable roads and shuttered gas stations paralyzed the critical relief effort, leaving lifesaving food, water, and medicine to pile up at the airport. Disaster preparedness experts and relief workers scramble to understand why the Philippines was so vulnerable when other countries, like India, have successfully slashed storm casualty counts in recent years. As climate change and sea level rise threaten millions of the world's most impoverished people with stronger, and perhaps more frequent, storms, how can we prepare for the next monster typhoon?

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