The rapid escalation, which made Tropical Storm Rai the Philippines’ worst storm this year, has exceeded expectations, killing nearly 400 people and displacing nearly one million.

Before rapidly intensifying it, forecasters initially warned of a storm that could do “considerable damage” with winds up to 165 mph.

“But things have changed very quickly,” Nikos Peñaranda, a meteorologist who studies thunderstorms with the Philippines “national weather bureau, said Tuesday.

As storms intensify faster, warm seawater and the different wind speeds near the storm’s eye act as fuel to propel it to a larger event.

In the case of Rai, the storm has morphed into a category 5 super-taifun, with speeds that resemble those of a passenger plane taking off from the ground.

As the plane neared land winds of up to 210 miles an hour rooted out palms, toppled poles and hurled sheet metal and wooden slabs through the air.

In the absence of real-time data and case studies of similar storms in the region, forecasters struggle to predict the intensification of Rai, or Odette, as the Storm is called locally.

“The challenge in forecasting rapidly intensifying events is just that the speed with which this occurs, often in a matter of hours, leaves less time for disaster risk reduction mobilisation and evacuations,” said Clare Nullis, a media officer at the Meteorological Department in Washington.

Typhoon Rai

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Typhoon Rai, known in the Philippines as Typhoon Odette, was a powerful and catastrophic tropical cyclone that struck the Philippines. (wikipedia)

Rai people

The Rai are a Kirati ethnolinguistic group who mainly reside in the eastern parts of Nepal, the Indian states of Sikkim, West Bengal and in south western Bhutan. The Rais are a set of groups, (wikipedia)

Hurricane Ida

Hurricane Ida was a deadly and destructive Category 4 Atlantic hurricane that became the second-most damaging and intense hurricane to make landfall in the U.S. state of Louisiana on record, (wikipedia)