Typhoon Nina (1987)

Typhoon Nina, known in the Philippines as Typhoon Sisang, was the most intense typhoon to strike the Philippines since Typhoon Irma in 1981. Typhoon Nina originated from an area of convection near the Marshall Islands in mid-November 1987. It gradually became better organized, and on November 19, was first classified as a tropical cyclone. Moving west-northwest, Nina attained tropical storm intensity that evening. Late on November 20, Nina passed through the Chuuk Lagoon in the Federated States of Micronesia. After a brief pause in intensification, Nina intensified into a typhoon on November 22. Two days later, the typhoon intensified suddenly, before attaining its peak 10 minute intensity of 165 km/h (105 mph; 90 kn). During the afternoon of November 25, Nina moved ashore in southern Luzon at the same intensity. It gradually weakened over land, before entering the South China Sea and turning to the north. By November 30, Nina dissipated.

Super Typhoon Nina (Sisang)
Very strong typhoon (JMA scale)
Category 5 super typhoon (SSHWS)
Super Typhoon Nina approaching landfall, at peak intensity on November 24
FormedNovember 19, 1987
DissipatedNovember 30, 1987
Highest winds10-minute sustained: 165 km/h (105 mph)
1-minute sustained: 270 km/h (165 mph)
Lowest pressure930 hPa (mbar); 27.46 inHg
Fatalities1,036 total
Damage$84.5 million (1987 USD)
Areas affectedChuuk Lagoon, Philippines, China, Hong Kong, Macau
Part of the 1987 Pacific typhoon season

Across the Chuuk Lagoon, four people were killed and damage ranged from $30–$40 million (1987 USD). In the capital of Weno, 85% of dwellings and 50% of government buildings were damaged. Throughout the atoll, at least 1,000 people were rendered homeless, approximately 1,000 houses were damaged, and 39 injuries were reported. While crossing the Philippines, Nina brought extensive damage to the northern portion of the island group. The town of Matnog sustained the worst damage from the typhoon, where 287 people died. Sixty-one people died in the nearby city of Verla, where 98% of all structures were either damaged or destroyed. Four hundred people died, 80% of all crops were destroyed, and 90% of all homes were either damaged or destroyed in the Sorsogon province. Nearby, in the Albay province, 73 people were killed. Throughout both the Albay and Sorsogon provinces, four-fifths of all schools and half of all public infrastructure were destroyed. Elsewhere, in Boac, 80% of homes lost their roofs. In Bacacay, 18 of the village's 200 homes were destroyed. However, the capital city of Manila avoided the brunt of the typhoon. Throughout the Philippines, approximately 114,000 people sought shelter, approximately 90,000 houses were destroyed, leaving more than 150,000 homeless. Nationwide, damage from the storm totaled $54.5 million and 979 people perished.

Meteorological history

Map plotting the storm's track and intensity, according to the Saffir–Simpson scale
Map key
  Tropical depression (≤38 mph, ≤62 km/h)
  Tropical storm (39–73 mph, 63–118 km/h)
  Category 1 (74–95 mph, 119–153 km/h)
  Category 2 (96–110 mph, 154–177 km/h)
  Category 3 (111–129 mph, 178–208 km/h)
  Category 4 (130–156 mph, 209–251 km/h)
  Category 5 (≥157 mph, ≥252 km/h)
Storm type
Extratropical cyclone / Remnant low / Tropical disturbance / Monsoon depression

An area of convection developed within near the Marshall Islands in mid-November. Initially, convection waxed and waned, but on November 17, the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) started tracking the system. At this time, the system developed deep convection as well as good outflow. The JTWC issued a Tropical Cyclone Formation Alert (TCFA) at 0100 UTC on November 19 due to a significant increase in organization.[1] Five hours later, the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) started monitoring the system.[2][nb 1] Continuing to rapidly become better organized while moving west-northwest, the cyclone was classified as a tropical depression by the JTWC at midday.[1] On the evening of November 19, both the JTWC and the JMA upgraded the system to Tropical Storm, prompting JTWC to name the system as Nina, shortly after developing banding features.[4][nb 2] Initially forecast by the JTWC to move slowly, instead, Nina accelerated while gradually intensifying. At 1600 UTC on November 20, Tropical Storm Nina passed 75 km (45 mi; 40 nmi) south of Weno Island in the Chuuk Lagoon.[1] Two hours later, the JMA upgraded Nina to a severe tropical storm.[2] After moving away from the island on the morning of November 21, the JTWC upgraded Nina to a typhoon at 1200 UTC,[1] with the JMA following suit early on November 22.[2] Shortly thereafter, Nina made its closest approach to Ulithi, passing 110 km (70 mi; 60 nmi) to the north. At 1600 UTC, Nina tracked about 175 km (110 mi; 95 nmi) north of Yap.[1]

Nina at peak intensity while approaching landfall in the Philippines.

Typhoon Nina accelerated slightly as it traversed the open waters of the Philippine Sea. The storm continued to slowly deepen, though early on November 23, the system leveled off in intensity.[1] That day, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) also monitored the storm and assigned it with the local name Sisang, upon entering the Philippine Area of Responsibility.[6] However, midday on November 24, Nina entered a phase of explosive intensification , at a rate of 1.33 mbar (0.039 inHg) an hour.[1] Despite this, the JMA only increased the intensity slightly to 170 km/h (105 mph; 90 kn).[2] After developing a well-defined eye, the JTWC reported that Nina attained its peak intensity of 270 km/h (170 mph; 145 kn), making it a low-end Category 5 system on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. At 1500 UTC on November 25, Nina moved ashore as it made landfall along the southern tip of Luzon at its peak intensity.[1]

Despite land interaction, little change in strength occurred until 0000 UTC on November 26, at that time, the system began to weaken.[2] After traversing Luzon and Mindoro, the JTWC reduced the wind speed of the typhoon to 110 mph (175 km/h; 95 kn). Although no eye was visible on satellite imagery, radar imagery indicated that an eye was present, but cloud-filed; henceforth, the JTWC increased the intensity of Nina to 185 km/h (115 mph; 100 kn), equivalent to a weak Category 3 hurricane.[1] According to the JMA, however, Nina never re-intensified.[2] By 0000 UTC on November 27, the low and mid level circulations began to decouple, deeply thwarting many JTWC forecasters. During this time, the cyclone posed a serious threat to Southern China and Hong Kong; but instead, Nina veered northward while gradually weakening;[1] by midday on November 27, the JMA had reduced the intensity of Nina to 130 km/h (80 mph; 70 kn).[2] Early on November 28, an eye once again became visible on satellite imagery. However, no re-intensification occurred. By the afternoon, increased wind shear took toll on the cyclone, causing Nina to become less organized due to deep convection being sheared off to the east-northeast. Thus, the JTWC expected Nina to move into the Luzon Straits and rapidly transitioned into an extratropical cyclone. After meandering within the South China Sea, Nina turned south, before dissipating on November 29;[1] though, JMA continued to monitor its remnants until 0000 UTC on November 30.[2]

Preparation and impact

Federated States of Micronesia

While passing near Truk, which has a population of 42,000,[7] Typhoon Nina inflicted heavy crop damage on the area.[7] In the capital of Weno, 85% of homes and 50% of government buildings were damaged.[8] There, communication lines were downed[9] and hundreds of people were evacuated.[7] Throughout the atoll, four people died,[9] including a woman and a 14-year-old boy killed by a falling breadfruit tree and an 11-year-old girl died after her leg was struck by a piece of flying metal.[7] One person was reported missing. Over 1,000 people were rendered homeless[10] while roughly 1,000 homes were damaged.[11] Damaged from the storm ranged from $30–40 million (1987 USD) and 39 were wounded.[12]


Prior to landfall, around 10 provinces,[13] including most of Luzon, was placed under a typhoon alert.[14] However, many fisherman ignored the alerts and refused to flee to higher ground.[15] Furthermore, Philippine Air Lines cancelled 21 domestic flights and three international flights.[13] Numerous other flights were delayed.[16] Local authorities also suspended school classes.[13]

Typhoon Nina brought widespread damage to much of the northern Philippines.[17] It was the strongest system to strike the archipelago since Typhoon Irma in 1981.[17] The capital city of Manila was spared the worst of Nina. There, only minor damage and power outages were reported,[18] though 800 were evacuated to shelters due to flooding and the city's airport closed.[19] Two men were crushed to death in Lucena City.[13] The worst effects of the storm were felt in Matnog,[20] where 287 people drowned due to storm surge.[17] In nearby Verla, 61 fatalities occurred,[21] where 98% of the city's buildings were damaged or destroyed and its supply of drinking water was cut off.[22] Throughout the Sorsogon province, 80% of all crops were destroyed[23] and 90% of all homes were either damaged or destroyed.[24] Province-wide, 400 people died.[22] In the Albay province, 73 people were killed.[25] Throughout both the Albay and Sorsogon provinces combined, 80% of all schools and 50% of all public buildings were demolished.[22]

Elsewhere, seven casualties occurred in the Laguna province, while one person perished each in San Pablo, Batangas, Marinduque and Mindoro Oriental.[22] Thirty-two people were killed in the Camarines Sur province and 23 other people died in Camarines Norte.[26] Five others were killed in the Masbate province,[27] and one died in Marinduque.[28] In Boac, the capital of Marinduque, 80% of all dwellings lost their roofs and damage was severe to churches, schools and city buildings.[29] In Bacacay, situated to the southeast of Legaspi, all but 15 of the town's 200 dwellings were leveled.[22] Although there were no deaths, Samar Island also suffered severe damage.[30] Offshore, five fisherman perished and a tugboat and cargo ship were rendered missing due to rough seas.[17] Nina also brought widespread power outages to most of Luzon;[31] consequently, trading on the nation's two biggest stock exchange was suspended for November 26.[24]

Overall, around 114,000 persons were evacuated to shelters,[17] 153,339 were listed homeless,[32] and 1,075 were wounded.[33] A total of 90,173 homes were demolished due to Nina while an additional 109,633 were partially destroyed.[34] Nationwide, 979 people were killed.[35] In all, damage from the storm totaled $54.5 million (1987 USD),[36][nb 3] $7.9 million of which occurred along the Bicol Region.[33]

Hong Kong and Macau

Although Nina was rapidly weakening over the South China Sea, the storm brought 4.7 mm (0.19 in) of rain to Hong Kong,[37] prompting a tropical cyclone signal for nearby Macau.[38]



Due to the damage wrought by Nina, President Corazon Aquino declared four Luzon provinces a disaster area.[17] Initially, only 11 provinces were declared a state of emergency,[39] but by November 29, this total increased to 17.[40] United States Ambassador Nicholas Platt released $25,000 in emergency aid and sent officials to help with relief efforts.[33] The American Red Cross also provided $24,000 worth of aid to post-storm victims.[22] The Roman Catholic Church also provided $160,000 worth of food to the nation.[41] Additionally, Social Welfare and Development Secretary Mita Pardo de Tavera donated $50,000 for emergency disaster relief,[39] though many locals complained that this aid was too little and too late.[22] Around 11,000 lb (5,000 kg) of rice was donated for use in eight provinces,[22] and on December 1, an additional 35,000 lb (16,000 kg) of aid was airlifted to the region.[42] Belgium also launched a four-month program to help 380,000 post-storm victims.[34] Most flights in and out of Manila had returned to a normal schedule by November 28.[25] In all, nine countries and several foreign Red Cross organizations responded by providing aid, totaling roughly $700,000 worth of value, mostly from Japan.[34] PAGASA later retired the name Sisang on the list of tropical cyclones in the country; it was replaced by Sendang.[43]

See also


  1. The Japan Meteorological Agency is the official Regional Specialized Meteorological Center for the western Pacific Ocean.[3]
  2. Wind estimates from the JMA and most other basins throughout the world are sustained over 10 minutes, while estimates from the United States-based Joint Typhoon Warning Center are sustained over 1 minute. 10-minute winds are about 1.14 times the amount of 1-minute winds.[5]
  3. All Philippine currencies are converted to United States Dollars using Philippines Measuring worth with an exchange rate of the year 1987.


  1. Joint Typhoon Warning Center; Naval Pacific Meteorology and Oceanography Center (1988). Annual Tropical Cyclone Report: 1987 (PDF) (Report). United States Navy, United States Air Force. Retrieved July 1, 2014.
  2. Japan Meteorological Agency (October 10, 1992). RSMC Best Track Data 19801989 (Report). Archived from the original (.TXT) on December 5, 2014. Retrieved June 13, 2014.
  3. "Annual Report on Activities of the RSMC Tokyo Typhoon Center 2000" (PDF). Japan Meteorological Agency. February 2001. p. 3. Retrieved July 1, 2014.
  4. Kenneth R. Knapp; Michael C. Kruk; David H. Levinson; Howard J. Diamond; Charles J. Neumann (2010). 1987 NINA. The International Best Track Archive for Climate Stewardship (IBTrACS): Unifying tropical cyclone best track data (Report). Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. Retrieved July 1, 2014.
  5. Christopher W Landsea; Hurricane Research Division (April 26, 2004). "Subject: D4) What does "maximum sustained wind" mean? How does it relate to gusts in tropical cyclones?". Frequently Asked Questions. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory. Retrieved June 13, 2014.
  6. "Destructive Typhoons 1970-2003". National Disaster Coordinating Council. November 9, 2004. Archived from the original on March 15, 2005. Retrieved March 2, 2015.
  7. "Typhoon Nina bound for central Philippines". United Press International. November 23, 1987.   via Lexis Nexis (subscription required)
  8. "Typhoon leaves up to 8 dead near Guam". United Press International. November 21, 1987.   via Lexis Nexis (subscription required)
  9. "Storm Knocks Out Island's Services; Deaths Reported". Associated Press. November 21, 1987.   via Lexis Nexis (subscription required)
  10. "Deadly Typhoon Heads For Philippines". United Press International. November 23, 1987.   via Lexis Nexis (subscription required)
  11. "Typhoon Nina heads toward Philippines". Associated Press. November 24, 1987.
  12. "Truk Storm Damage Estimated At $30-40 Million". Associated Press. November 24, 1987.   via Lexis Nexis (subscription required)
  13. Abbugao, Martin (November 25, 1987). "International News". United Press International.   via Lexis Nexis (subscription required)
  14. "Typhoon Nina hits Philippines". United Press International. November 25, 1987.   via Lexis Nexis (subscription required)
  15. Mannario, Ana (November 28, 1987). "Fishermen dismissed threaten of deadly typhoon". United Press International.   via Lexis Nexis (subscription required)
  16. "Typhoon Strikes Philippines". United Press International. November 25, 1987.   via Lexis Nexis (subscription required)
  17. Abbugao, Martin (November 26, 1987). "International News". United Press International.   via Lexis Nexis (subscription required)
  18. Freeman, Mark (November 27, 1987). "Huge toll feared in Philippine typhoon". The Guardian.   via Lexis Nexis (subscription required)
  19. "Typhoon kills 270". The Telegraph. November 27, 1987.   via Lexis Nexis (subscription required)
  20. "Giant Waves kill 681 in wake of Typhoon Nina". Rueters. November 29, 1987.   via Lexis Nexis (subscription required)
  21. "Typhoon kills 367 in Philippines". Mohave Daily Miner. United Press International. November 27, 1987. Retrieved April 21, 2015.
  22. Mannario, Ana (November 28, 1987). "International News". United Press International.   via Lexis Nexis (subscription required)
  23. "Typhoon leaves thousands homeless". Lodi News-Sentinel. United Press International. November 27, 1987. Retrieved April 21, 2015.
  24. "International News". Associated Press. November 26, 1987.   via Lexis Nexis (subscription required)
  25. "Typhoon death toll rises to 361; Philippines". Sydney Morning Herald. Reuters. November 28, 1987.   via Lexis Nexis (subscription required)
  26. "Typhoon Nina death toll mounts". Banglor Daily News. United Press International. November 30, 1987. Retrieved April 21, 2015.
  27. "Typhoon Nina kills 270". The Victory Advocate. Associated Press. November 27, 1987. Retrieved April 21, 2015.
  28. "Philippines Devastated By Typhoon Nina". Observer-Reporter. Associated Press. November 27, 1987. Retrieved April 21, 2015.
  29. Abbugao, Martin (November 26, 1987). "Aquino declares typhoon emergency in Philippines". United Press International.   via Lexis Nexis (subscription required)
  30. Hatten, James (November 28, 1987). "Typhoon Toll Tops 300 in Philippines". Associated Press.   via Lexis Nexis (subscription required)
  31. Suarze, Migel (November 27, 1987). "At Least 500 Dead In Typhoon". Associated Press.   via Lexis Nexis (subscription required)
  32. Top 25 Natural Disasters in Philippines according to Number of Killed (1901-2000) (PDF) (Report). Asian Disaster Reduction Center. Retrieved April 21, 2015.
  33. Hatten, James (November 27, 1987). "Typhoon Toll Tops 300 in Philippines". Associated Press.   via Lexis Nexis (subscription required)
  34. Philippines: Typhoon Nov 1987 UNDRO Information Reports 1 - 4 (Report). Relief Web. November 28, 1987. Retrieved April 21, 2015.
  35. "The Deadliest Typhoons of the Philippines (1947 – 2014)" (PDF). Typhoon2000. 2014. Retrieved November 1, 2021.
  36. Destructive Typhoons 1970-2003 (Report). National Disaster Coordinating Council. November 9, 2004. Archived from the original on November 9, 2004. Retrieved March 2, 2015.
  37. Tropial Cyclones in 1987 (PDF) (Report). Hong Kong Royal Observatory. May 1987.
  38. Record of Tropical Cyclones that involved the hoisted of warning signals (Report). April 1, 2003. Archived from the original on April 15, 2003.
  39. Mannario, Ana (November 27, 1987). "Nina's death toll rises to more than 400". United Press International.   via Lexis Nexis (subscription required)
  40. "Philippine Typhoon Toll Said to Be At Least 500". New York Times. Associated Press. November 27, 1987.   via Lexis Nexis (subscription required)
  41. Hatton, James (December 4, 1987). "U.S. Gives 10 More Helicopters To Philippines". Associated Press.   via Lexis Nexis (subscription required)
  42. Mannario, Ana (December 1, 1987). "Relief supplies airlifted to typhoon victims". United Press International.   via Lexis Nexis (subscription required)
  43. "Deadliest typhoons in the Philippines". ABS-CBNNews. November 8, 2013. Retrieved April 21, 2015.
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