Typhoon Haiyan Was Not the Size of the US

Super Typhoon Haiyan
Super Typhoon Haiyan, the strongest storm seen in during the satellite era, was spotted by the Japan Meteorological Agency's MTSAT on Nov. 7, 2013, as it headed toward landfall over the Philippines. (Image credit: Japan Meteorological Agency/NOAA)

No, Super Typhoon Haiyan was not the size of the continental United States. You could be forgiven for thinking so, however, based on an image suggesting as much released by the American Red Cross yesterday (Nov. 11) that went viral. The storm was much smaller — it would have only covered much of the U.S. Southeast, the New Republic reports.

The Red Cross was alerted to the error and posted an apology yesterday: "Earlier today, we posted a map of Typhoon Haiyan comparing the size of the storm to geography of the United States. In the process of making the rest of our maps for our operations in the Philippines, we made a mistake with this one and it was not to scale."

This image released by the American Red Cross is flawed, and inaccurately shows Super Typhoon Haiyan taking up the entire continental U.S. It was instead much smaller. (Image credit: American Red Cross)

Haiyan packed sustained winds up to 190 mph (305 km/h) in the hours before it made landfall, according to some accounts. Local estimates put the death toll of Super Typhoon Haiyan at 10,000 in the Philippines. Its storm surge reached up to 20 feet (6 m) in parts of the central Philippines.

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Douglas Main
Douglas Main loves the weird and wonderful world of science, digging into amazing Planet Earth discoveries and wacky animal findings (from marsupials mating themselves to death to zombie worms to tear-drinking butterflies) for Live Science. Follow Doug on Google+.