World’s strongest storm in 2020 makes landfall in the Philippines

The world’s strongest storm this year repeatedly slammed into the eastern part of the Philippines on Sunday, bringing “catastrophic violent winds” in what weather experts say is set to be the hardest landfall on record.

Super Typhoon Goni first hit land before dawn Sunday over Catanduanes province, and subsequently pummeled Albay, according to the weather bureau. It’s expected to cross the southern Luzon and Metro Manila area from the afternoon before exiting land this evening or Monday, bringing “intense” rain to the capital.

“Catastrophic violent winds and intense to torrential rainfall associated with the region of the eyewall and inner rainbands of the typhoon is prevailing or expected within the next 12 hours,” according to the 8 a.m. advisory. “This a particularly dangerous situation.”

With winds of 195 miles per hour, “Goni is the strongest landfalling tropical cyclone” in history, said Jeff Masters, a meteorologist with Yale Climate Connections and co-founder of Weather Underground. The previous record was held by Super Typhoons Meranti and Haiyan, which also made landfall in the Philippines in 2016 and 2013 respectively.

Categorized by the U.S. Joint Typhoon Warning Center as a super typhoon, it’s now packing maximum sustained winds of 225 kilometers per hour and gusts of 310 kilometers per hour, up from 280 kilometers an hour at the 5 a.m. update when it first made landfall.

Authorities will shut Manila’s international airport to all flights for 24 hours from 10 a.m. local time Sunday as Goni approaches, the Manila International Airport Authority said on its website. The capital, along with other areas, will face “heavy to intense with at times torrential rains,” according to the advisory for the storm.

Flag carrier Philippine Airlines canceled 20 international and 25 domestic flights for Sunday and Monday, according to its advisory.

Nearly 800,000 people have fled their homes in Albay province in the main Luzon island, while 200,000 more have been evacuated in nearby provinces, Ricardo Jalad, executive director of the Philippines’ disaster risk-monitoring agency said. Dozens of areas, including Metro Manila, were placed under storm alert.

The cyclone comes days after Typhoon Molave lashed the Southeast Asian nation, leaving at least 22 dead and causing a minimum of 1.81 billion pesos ($37.4 million) of damage to crops, before heading to Vietnam. Goni is tracking a similar route.

An average of 20 cyclones pass through disaster-prone Philippines every year, which will likely complicate the nation’s fight against the coronavirus as hundreds of thousands of people are evacuated from typhoon-hit areas. In 2013, Haiyan, one of the strongest typhoons recorded, struck the Southeast Asian nation and killed more than 6,300 people.

Coconut, rice and corn plantations may suffer severe losses. Typhoon Goni could damage more than 928,000 hectares of land planted with rice and 58,431 hectares of corn, the Department of Agriculture estimates.

The storm can have a “high humanitarian impact,” the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System said on its website, adding that nearly 50 million people are at risk.

Another typhoon, Atsani, is forecast to enter Philippine territory on Sunday but is less likely to bring severe weather over the next three days, according to the nation’s weather forecaster.

The Philippines’ first catastrophe bond, which provides $150 million of tropical cyclone disaster insurance protection sourced from the capital markets, may be triggered, according to Artemis, which monitors catastrophe bonds, insurance-linked securities and weather risk markets.

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