Infrared satellite image of Super Typhoon Goni at 2 p.m. EDT Friday, October 30, 2020, when it was a category 5 storm with 180 mph winds. (Image credit: RAMMB/CIRA/Colorado State University)

Super Typhoon Goni exploded into Earth’s most powerful storm of 2020 as a category 5 storm with 180 mph winds in the waters to the east of the Philippines, at 11 a.m. EDT Friday, October 30. Goni is expected to make landfall on Luzon Island in the Philippines on Sunday as a category 4 storm, and pass very close to the capital of Manila at category 1 strength or stronger.

Goni put on an extremely impressive bout of rapid intensification beginning at 0Z October 28, strengthening by 145 mph, from a 30-mph tropical depression to a 175-mph super typhoon, in 54 hours. According to Sam Lillo, only five storms in the global tropical cyclone database have achieved a 145-mph increase in 54 hours or less: Typhoon Vera in 1959 in the northwest Pacific; Hurricane Linda in 1997 in the northeast Pacific; Cyclone Zoe in 2002 in the southeast Pacific; Hurricane Wilma in 2005 in the Atlantic, and Hurricane Patricia in 2015 in the northeast Pacific.

Figure 1. Predicted wind speed (colors) and wind barbs for Typhoon Goni at 2 a.m. EDT (6Z) Sunday, November 1, from the 12Z Friday, October 30, run of the HWRF model. The model predicted Goni would hit the Philippines as a category 4 storm, and then rapidly weaken inland to a category 3 storm with 115 mph winds, heading directly for the capital of Manila. (Image credit: Tropical Tidbits)

Forecast for Goni

Goni took advantage of nearly ideal conditions for intensification on Thursday and Friday, with light wind shear less than 10 knots, a very moist atmosphere, ocean temperatures of 30 – 31 Celsius (86 – 88° F), and an ocean heat content of 150 kiljoules per square centimeter. These favorable conditions are expected to persist through Saturday. However, the typhoon will experience a less favorable upper-level outflow pattern, which should cause some weakening. In addition, satellite imagery suggested on Friday that the tiny eight-mile diameter eyewall of Goni was probably about to collapse and be replaced by a new eyewall with a much larger diameter. This process, known as an eyewall replacement cycle, typically results in a weakening of the storm’s winds by 10-20 mph.

The official Joint Typhoon Warning Center forecast at 11 a.m. EDT Friday called for Goni to be a weaker but still devastating 145-mph category 4 typhoon at landfall in Luzon early on Sunday, November 1 (U.S. EDT). Goni is a relatively small typhoon, and land interaction will weaken the storm rapidly as it passes over Luzon. However, Goni may pass close enough to the megacity of Manila (metro area population, 13 million) to bring the eyewall winds of the storm to the world’s most densely populated city. At that time, the 12Z Friday run of the HWRF model predicted that Goni would be a category 1 typhoon with 85 mph winds.

Figure 2. Tracks of all historical category 1 and stronger typhoons to pass within 30 miles of Manila, Philippines. (Image credit: NOAA)

Winds of that magnitude in Manila are likely to cause a major disaster. The most recent typhoon to pass within 30 miles of Manila was Typhoon Rammasun of 2014 (known as “Glenda” in the Philippines), which passed 25 miles to the south of Manila as a category 2 storm with 105 mph winds. Rammasun was the third-costliest typhoon in Philippines history, with $885 million in damage. The typhoon killed 106 people in the Philippines and knocked out power to 90% of Manila.

Once Goni emerges into the South China sea after crossing Luzon, high wind shear, drier air, and cooler sea surface temperatures will likely prevent significant re-intensification. Goni is predicted to hit storm-weary Vietnam on November 4 as a tropical storm.

Figure 3. Global category 5 tropical cyclones from 1990 – 2019, as rated by NOAA’s National Hurricane Center and the U.S. Navy’s Joint Typhoon Warning Center. The quality of the database that rates Cat 5s is too poor and the time series of decent data on these storms is too short to make definitive conclusions about how climate change may be affecting these most fearsome of storms. However, climate change is expected to make category 5 storms stronger and more numerous in the coming decades.

Goni is Earth’s third category 5 storm of 2020

Super Typhoon Goni joins Cyclone Amphan (160 mph winds in the North Indian Ocean in May) and Cyclone Harold (165 mph winds in the Southeast Pacific in April) as one of Earth’s three category 5 storms of 2020. Earth averaged 5.3 Category 5 storms per year between 1990 and 2019, according to ratings made by NOAA’s National Hurricane Center and the U.S. Navy’s Joint Typhoon Warning Center, so two more Cat 5s would make it a near-average year in that respect.

Post-season analysis finds an extra category 5 typhoon in 2019

In 2019, there were six category 5 tropical cyclones, and not five, as originally thought, according to the 2019 JTWC best track for the Western Pacific, released last month. There are three highly notable changes in the re-analysis (thanks go to Jasper Deng for this information):

1. Typhoon Bualoi, originally assessed as a category 4 typhoon with 145 mph winds, was upped to a 160-mph category 5 super typhoon.
2. Typhoon Hagibis’ winds were upgraded to a remarkable 185 mph. In 22 hours, Hagibis’ winds increased by 115 mph. This comes very close to the world record for fastest 24-hour intensification: 120 mph, set by Hurricane Patricia off the Pacific coast of Mexico in October 2015.
3. Super Typhoon Halong’s winds were upped from 180 mph to 190 mph. By one method of classifying tropical cyclones, Halong was Earth’s eighth-strongest storm ever.

Two other tropical cyclones just missed achieving category 5 status in 2019, topping out with 155 mph winds (157 mph winds are the threshold for a Cat 5): Cyclone Fani in the North Indian Ocean on May 2, and Cyclone Ambali in the Southwest Indian Ocean. Ambali is notable for setting a mark for the largest 24-hour intensification on record in the Southern Hemisphere, after it intensified 115 mph in just 24 hours. The previous record was 110 mph in 24 hours by Cyclone Ernie in 2017. No final re-analysis for these storms has yet been released.

Strongest tropical cyclones are getting stronger

Scientists theorize that a warming climate should make the strongest tropical cyclones stronger, since hurricanes are heat engines that extract heat energy from the oceans, converting it to kinetic energy in the form of wind. In a 2019 Review Paper by 11 hurricane scientists, “Tropical Cyclones and Climate Change Assessment: Part I. Detection and Attribution“, 10 of 11 authors concluded that the balance of evidence suggests a detectable increase in the average intensity of global hurricanes since the early 1980s; eight of those 11 concluded that the balance of evidence suggests that human-caused climate change contributed to that increased intensity.

All those 11 authors agreed that the balance of evidence suggests that the proportion of all hurricanes reaching category 4-5 strength has increased in recent years; and eight of them concluded that the balance of evidence suggests that human-caused climate change contributed to that increase.

A 2019 five-minute video by Peter Sinclair of Yale Climate Connections includes my analysis on how hurricanes are changing in the new warming climate.

We plan to do the next “Eye on the Storm” post on Sunday afternoon.

Website visitors can comment on “Eye on the Storm” posts (see below). Please read our Comments Policy prior to posting. (See all EOTS posts here. Sign up to receive notices of new postings here.)

Posted on October 30, 2020 (4:43 pm EDT).

Jeff Masters

Jeff Masters, Ph.D., worked as a hurricane scientist with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990. After a near-fatal flight into category 5 Hurricane Hugo, he left the Hurricane Hunters to pursue a...

50 replies on “Super Typhoon Goni intensifies to category 5 in the Pacific, becoming strongest storm of 2020”

  1. ok im somewhat feeling better now..the 12Z models are all over the place again,thats a good sign for my area and probably all Florida..but im waiting to see oh..Thursday what the models have in mind

  2. Finally was able to restock my freezer this morning. Wanted to wait to make the power was stable after it came back on yesterday afternoon.

    From what I could tell, most of the damage and downed trees in the Gulfport Mississippi were caused by winds coming from the south. Houses and buildings had had shingles and bare roofs on the south side but not the north, east, or west.

    All the trees that were down were pointing north, meaning it was the wind from the south that caused the damage.

    The storm surge caused a lot of debris to pile up close to my office. Thankfully, no damage at the office or plant.

  3. so almost all the models take the storm into central america then back out..cross over Cuba then Into south florida, up into central Florida etc..im wishing this storm to DIE out down in central america..we dont need that storm anywhere here

  4. when the storm goes into central america..it comes back out as a low then builds up moving northeast into Florida? as a hurricane…so far anyway…lets hope this changes FAST huh

  5. Japan Meteorological Agency
    Tropical Cyclone Advisory #39 – 15:00 PM JST November 1 2020
    TYPHOON GONI (T2019)
    =============================================
    near Marinduque province (Luzon/Philippines)

    At 6:00 AM UTC, Typhoon Goni (965 hPa) located at 13.6N 122.0E has 10 minute sustained winds of 80 knots with gusts of 115 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving west at 15 knots.

    Storm Force Winds
    ===================
    35 nm from the center

    Gale Force Winds
    ==================
    210 nm from the center in northern quadrant
    120 nm from the center in southern quadrant

    Dvorak Intensity: T5.0

    Forecast and Intensity
    =========================
    12 HRS: 14.8N 119.6E – 60 knots (CAT 2/Severe Tropical Storm) South China Sea
    24 HRS: 15.3N 117.4E – 50 knots (CAT 2/Severe Tropical Storm) South China Sea
    48 HRS: 15.0N 113.6E – 50 knots (CAT 2/Severe Tropical Storm) South China Sea
    72 HRS: 14.8N 111.1E – 50 knots (CAT 2/Severe Tropical Storm) South China Sea

    ———————————————————————————————-

    Japan Meteorological Agency
    Tropical Cyclone Advisory #27 – 15:00 PM JST November 1 2020
    TROPICAL STORM ATSANI (T2020)
    =============================================
    Sea East of the Philippines

    At 6:00 AM UTC, Tropical Storm Atsani (998 hPa) located at 16.0N 132.5E has 10 minute sustained winds of 35 knots with gusts of 50 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving west northwest at 17 knots.

    Gale Force Winds
    =================
    120 nm from the center in northern quadrant
    90 nm from the center in southern quadrant

    Dvorak Intensity: T2.5

    Forecast and Intensity
    =========================
    12 HRS: 18.0N 130.5E – 40 knots (CAT 1/Tropical Storm) Sea East of the Philippines
    24 HRS: 19.0N 129.4E – 45 knots (CAT 1/Tropical Storm) Sea East of the Philippines
    48 HRS: 19.7N 129.6E – 45 knots (CAT 1/Tropical Storm) Sea East of the Philippines
    72 HRS: 18.8N 128.5E – 50 knots (CAT 2/Severe Tropical Storm) Sea East of the Philippines

  6. Japan Meteorological Agency
    Tropical Cyclone Advisory #37 – 9:00 AM JST November 1 2020
    TYPHOON GONI (T2019)
    =============================================
    Over land Albay (Luzon/Philippines)

    At 0:00 AM UTC, Typhoon Goni (960 hPa) located at 13.5N 123.6E has 10 minute sustained winds of 90 knots with gusts of 130 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving west at 14 knots.

    Storm Force Winds
    ===================
    40 nm from the center

    Gale Force Winds
    ==================
    260 nm from the center in northwestern quadrant
    120 nm from the center in southeastern quadrant

    Dvorak Intensity: T6.0

    Forecast and Intensity
    =========================
    12 HRS: 14.0N 121.2E – 65 knots (CAT 3/Strong Typhoon) Over land Batangas (Luzon/Philippines)
    24 HRS: 15.2N 118.4E – 45 knots (CAT 1/Tropical Storm) South China Sea
    48 HRS: 15.1N 114.2E – 45 knots (CAT 1/Tropical Storm) South China Sea
    72 HRS: 14.9N 111.6E – 50 knots (CAT 2/Severe Tropical Storm) South China Sea

    ————————————————————————————–

    Japan Meteorological Agency
    Tropical Cyclone Advisory #25 – 9:00 AM JST November 1 2020
    TROPICAL STORM ATSANI (T2020)
    =============================================
    Sea East of the Philippines

    At 0:00 AM UTC, Tropical Storm Atsani (998 hPa) located at 15.7N 134.3E has 10 minute sustained winds of 40 knots with gusts of 60 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving west northwest at 17 knots.

    Gale Force Winds
    =================
    150 nm from the center

    Dvorak Intensity: T2.5

    Forecast and Intensity
    =========================
    12 HRS: 17.4N 131.7E – 50 knots (CAT 2/Severe Tropical Storm) Sea East of the Philippines
    24 HRS: 18.7N 130.1E – 60 knots (CAT 2/Severe Tropical Storm) Sea East of the Philippines
    48 HRS: 19.4N 129.3E – 65 knots (CAT 3/Strong Typhoon) Sea East of the Philippines
    72 HRS: 18.7N 129.1E – 70 knots (CAT 3/Strong Typhoon) Sea East of the Philippines

Comments are closed.