The wall of water, or storm surge, pushed ashore by super typhoon Haiyan in early November may have reached 20 feet (or higher) in Tacloban city. These astonishing heights, responsible for the lion’s share of the death and destruction in the Philippine city, likely were achieved due to an unfortunate confluence of meteorology and geography.
The model animation below, developed by Deltares – a coastal engineering group in the Netherlands, shows how the storm’s winds, from the southeast direction on its north side, blew the water straight up San Pedro Bay as Haiyan made landfall. Tacloban, sitting on the Bay’s northwest flank, essentially became the catcher’s mitt for the funneling water. According to the model animation, the surge piled up precisely at Tacloban producing a maximum surge exceeding 5 meters or 16 feet (not including any effect from the tide or wave heights).
Similar surge funneling also likely occurred in Matarinao Bay south of Hernani, Eastern Samar when Haiyan first made in landfall. In case you missed it, see this terrifying storm surge video from that location (dramatic footage at 42 seconds in):
Hat tip: ICyclone Facebook Page