Super Typhoon Goni satellite image
Super Typhoon Goni as seen by the light of the Halloween full moon on October 31, 2020, by the VIIRS instrument. The lights of Manila are visible at left. (Image credit: NASA Worldview)

Super Typhoon Goni made landfall near Bato, Catanduanes Island, Philippines, at 4:50 a.m. local time on November 1 (4:50 p.m. EDT October 31), with sustained winds of 195 mph and a central pressure of 884 mb, according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC). Goni was the strongest landfalling tropical cyclone in world recorded history, using one-minute average wind speeds from the National Hurricane Center for the Atlantic/northeast Pacific and one-minute average winds from JTWC for the rest of the planet’s ocean basins.

The previous record was jointly held by Super Typhoon Meranti, which made landfall on September 16, 2016, on Itbayat Island, Philippines, and Super Typhoon Haiyan, which made landfall on November 8, 2013, on Leyte Island, Philippines. Both had maximum winds of 195 mph at their peak intensity, but were weaker at landfall, with 190 mph winds, according to JWTC. There are no official world records for strongest landfalling storms, since the JTWC does not routinely assign landfall intensities in their post-season summaries (though they did make an exception for Super Typhoon Haiyan).

Figure 1
Figure 1. Infrared satellite image of Super Typhoon Goni at 4:50 p.m. EDT October 31, when it was making landfall on Catanduanes Island in the Philippines with sustained winds of 195 mph and a central pressure of 884 mb. (Image credit: RAMMB/CIRA/Colorado State University)

The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), recognized by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) as the official agency for issuing typhoon forecasts in the northwestern Pacific, gave Goni a weaker rating at landfall: 140-mph sustained 10-minute average winds, with a central pressure of 905 mb. To convert from 10-minute average winds to the one-minute average winds used in the U.S., one needs to multiply by a factor of about 1.1, depending on the location of the wind sensor. So JMA’s estimate for Goni comes out to about 155 mph one-minute average winds, a far cry from JTWC’s 195-mph estimate.

It is concerning that two expert groups would come up with such widely divergent wind estimates for Goni’s peak intensity. Satellite estimates using synthetic aperture radar (SAR) of Goni’s winds at 21:17 UTC October 30 were as high as 180 mph, averaged over a 3 km pixel in the eyewall. JTWC assigned Goni 180-185 mph winds at that time, giving credence to its intensity ratings for Goni. The true intensity of Goni will likely never be known, as there are no direct measurements; the Air Force Hurricane Hunters stopped flying into Pacific typhoons in 1974.

Figure 2
Figure 2. Radar image of Super Typhoon Goni making landfall near Bato, on Catanduanes Island, in the Philippines, at 20:50 UTC October 31. (Image credit: PAGASA)

The top 10 strongest tropical cyclones at landfall in world history, according to data from the National Hurricane Center (NHC) and JTWC are:

1) 195 mph: Super Typhoon Goni, 2020, Catanduanes, Philippines;
2) 190 mph: Super Typhoon Haiyan, 2013, Leyte, Philippines;
2) 190 mph: Super Typhoon Meranti, 2016, Itbayat, Philippines;
4) 185 mph: Great Labor Day Hurricane, 1935, Florida, U.S.;
4) 185 mph: Super Typhoon Joan, 1959, Eastern Taiwan;
6) 180 mph: Hurricane Irma, 2017, Leeward Islands;
6) 180 mph: Cyclone Winston, 2016, Fiji;
6) 180 mph: Super Typhoon Megi, 2010, Luzon, Philippines;
6) 180 mph: Super Typhoon Zeb, 1998, Luzon, Philippines; and
6) 180 mph: Cyclone Monica, 2006, Northern Territory, Australia.

Ominously, seven of the 10 strongest landfalls in recorded history have occurred since 2006. Prior to Goni, 20 category 5 super typhoons with winds of at least 160 mph had hit the Philippines since 1952, according to NOAA’s historical hurricane tracks (IBTrACS) database.

Figure 3
Figure 3. Surface wind speed (in knots) over the ocean at 01:29 UTC November 1, using satellite estimates from Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) (https://www.star.nesdis.noaa.gov/socd/mecb/sar/AKDEMO_products/APL_winds/tropical/?year=2020&storm=WP222020_GONI). The eye of Super Typhoon Goni was on the south end of Catanduanes Island, Philippines, after making landfall on the eastern side of the island with 195 mph (170 knot) winds a few hours earlier. (Image credit: NOAA)

Goni officially the fifth strongest tropical cyclone in history (by wind)

Goni’s 195 mph sustained winds made it the fifth strongest tropical cyclone in world history (by one-minute average wind speed). Note that a tropical cyclone’s winds are generally stronger when its central pressure is lower. However, that relationship is not exact, because the size of the cyclone is also a factor, and a smaller cyclone will have stronger winds for a given central pressure.

Officially, here are the strongest tropical cyclones in world history, according to JTWC and NHC (using one-minute average sustained winds):

Hurricane Patricia (2015), 215 mph winds, 872 mb pressure. Made landfall in Mexico with 150 mph winds, killing 8.
Super Typhoon Nancy (1961), 215 mph winds, 882 mb pressure. Made landfall as a Cat 2 in Japan, killing 191 people.
Super Typhoon Violet (1961), 205 mph winds, 886 mb pressure. Made landfall in Japan as a tropical storm, killing 2 people.
Super Typhoon Ida (1958), 200 mph winds, 877 mb pressure. Made landfall as a Cat 1 in Japan, killing 1269 people.
Super Typhoon Haiyan (2013), 195 mph winds, 895 mb pressure. Made landfall in the Philippines with 190 mph winds, killing over 6,000 people.
Super Typhoon Meranti (2016), 195 mph winds, 890 mb pressure. Made landfall in the Philippines with 190 mph winds, then in China with 100 mph winds, killing 47 people.
Super Typhoon Kit (1966), 195 mph winds, 880 mb pressure. Did not make landfall.
Super Typhoon Sally (1964), 195 mph winds, 895 mb pressure. Made landfall as a Cat 4 in the Philippines, killing over 200 people.

However, it is now recognized (Black 1992) that the maximum sustained winds were over-estimated for typhoons during the 1940s to 1960s. Thus, the only reliably measured tropical cyclone stronger than Goni was Hurricane Patricia in 2015, which had a hurricane hunter aircraft inside it to accurately measure its winds.

The winds of Goni, Haiyan, and Meranti were estimated using only satellite images, therefore providing less confidence in their intensity estimates. Satellite methods of estimating intensity, such as the Dvorak technique, cannot capture the most extreme peak winds and central pressures found in storms such as Patricia and Goni. Had a hurricane hunter aircraft flown into Goni or Haiyan or Meranti, peak intensity winds of 215 mph, as were measured in Patricia, may well have been observed. Alternatively, these typhoons could have been weaker than rated, with winds no more than 175 mph.

Dr. Hugh Willoughby, former head of NOAA’s Hurricane Research Division, had this to say in 2017 about the winds measured in Super Typhoon Nancy and the other high-end typhoons from this list in the 1960s:

I would not take the winds seriously because reconnaissance meteorologists estimated them visually. A decade later when I flew with the VW-1 hurricane hunters, we had the same Doppler system used to measure the winds of Typhoon Nancy. It tracked the aircraft motion relative to the (possibly moving) sea surface. It couldn’t get a coherent signal in high winds because the beam reflected from both the actual surface (whatever that is) and blowing spray. Visual estimates are dubious because the surface (under the eyewall!) is hard to see unless you are flying below cloud base (200-300 m) and also because appreciably above 115 mph, it’s completely white with blowing spray. We used to think that we could estimate stronger winds from the decreasing coverage of slightly greenish patches where the spray was thinner. I now think that we were kidding ourselves. In those days the distinctions among wind gust, sustained one-minute winds, etc., were less well defined than they are now. So, we may never know what the 1960s reconnaissance data really means!

Catastrophic damage in the Philippines

Inquirer tweet

The full scope of the damage wrought by Goni in the Philippines (locally known as “Rolly”) will not be known for days, but the region of Catanduanes Island, where the typhoon made its initial landfall with 195 mph winds, likely suffered catastrophic damage. The wind damage from a 195-mph hurricane would be akin to that from a high-end EF3 tornado with 165 mph winds, when accounting for the fact that hurricane wind ratings are for over-water exposure, and friction from land typically reduces wind speeds by about 15%.

A devastating storm surge of 3 – 6 meters (10 – 20 feet) was predicted for a large swath of the coast (Figure 4), and Goni’s surge undoubtedly caused catastrophic damage. This video from Camarines Sur shows an example of the large storm surge and extreme winds from Goni that affected the Philippines.

Torrential rains from Goni caused devastating river flooding and mudslides in the Philippines. Rains mobilized ash deposits on the Mayon volcano in the province of Albay, creating lahars that buried 300 homes under debris (see tweet); a personal weather station near the Mayon volcano recorded 12.12 inches of rain from Goni. The lahars killed at least three, and left three people missing. Devastating river flooding affected a large swath of the Philippines along Goni’s track; one example can be seen in this video from Camalig Province, Philippines.

Figure 4
Figure 4. Storm surge forecast for Goni issued by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) on Saturday, October 31, 2020.

Goni largely spares Manila

As a result of its relatively small size, its passage over the rough terrain of Catanduanes Island, and the timely arrival of strong upper-level winds out of the east that created 20 – 30 knots of wind shear, the eyewall of Goni collapsed quickly after landfall, and the typhoon did not bring strong winds to the megacity of Manila (metro area population of 13 million). Goni passed about 45 miles to the south of Manila as a tropical storm with 70 mph winds on Sunday, and the highest winds observed at Ninoy Aquino International Airport were 28 mph, gusting to 40 mph.

Goni emerged into the South China Sea on Sunday morning, and was headed west toward Vietnam, where landfall as a weak tropical storm is expected to occur on November 5. The Philippines will be threatened late this week by yet another tropical cyclone, Atsani, which is expected to pass near northern Luzon Island on November 5 as a category 1 typhoon.

Global warming predicted to cause an 8-fold increase in megastorms like Goni

A 2018 paper by Bhatia et al.,Projected Response of Tropical Cyclone Intensity and Intensification in a Global Climate Model,” used the highest-resolution global climate model that has been developed for studying intense tropical cyclones, HiFLOR. The model predicted a highly concerning increase in ultra-intense category 5 tropical cyclones with winds of at least 190 mph: from an average of about one of these Super Typhoon Goni-like storms occurring once every eight years globally in the climate of the late 20th century, to one of these megastorms per year between 2081 to 2100 – a factor of eight increase.

Even more concerning is that the results of the study were for a middle-of-the road global warming scenario (RCP 4.5), which civilization will have to work very hard to achieve. Under the “business-as-usual” track we are currently on, the model might have predicted an even greater increase in ultra-intense tropical cyclones. The fact that we’ve seen four megastorms as strong as or stronger than Goni over the past eight years is a troubling sign.

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Posted on November 1, 2020(2:36pm ET). 

Topics: Weather Extremes
39 Comments
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Akeila
Akeila
23 days ago

i have a question for all of you. what is missing from the Philippines and isthere in other countries?

Akeila
Akeila
23 days ago

fastest wind speed at catanduanes at 195 mph wind

Akeila
Akeila
23 days ago
Reply to  Akeila

and most destruction

Akeila
Akeila
23 days ago
Reply to  Akeila

and the Bicol reigon also was one of the most damaged

Thomas Sharp
Thomas Sharp
25 days ago

correction: Goni emerged into the West Philippine Sea and NOT into the South China Sea!

Tony D
Tony D
25 days ago

It went right over us in Lucena.
A week after a Signal 3 went over.

Akeila
Akeila
25 days ago

hi, i am from the Philippines. at luzon there is so much destruction 🙁

Akeila
Akeila
24 days ago
Reply to  Akeila

there were floods too and one dog died

Emerson
Emerson
25 days ago

“Eta” and “Goni” Too really strong storms prayers for everyone in the’s two storms path especially nicaragua and honduras D:

NCHurricane2009
26 days ago

Good late morning to all, my latest birdseye view chart and post on the Atlantic tropics, with lots of info on Hurricane Eta, is up at this link.

I am praying for those in northeastern Nicaragua and eastern Honduras as this looks like it could be a top-end category 4 at landfall, probably on the order of what we saw in southwest Louisiana with Hurricane Laura back in August.

Amature Met
Amature Met
26 days ago

Shame Dr. Masters is here along with Mr. B Henson and yet most still prefer the D back door.

TCFla
TCFla
26 days ago
Reply to  Amature Met

link to backdoor? I lost it

Susan Anderson
Susan Anderson
26 days ago
Reply to  TCFla

Here you are. [Despite its deficiencies, Disqus has a number of capabilities, especially the ability to at least in a limited fashion use notifications to have conversations in near real time, that make it the location of choice for most of us. It’s a little more chaotic, and that too has a certain appeal.]
https://disqus.com/home/discussion/wund/weather_underground_2993/newest/

steele9000
steele9000
26 days ago
Reply to  Amature Met

Everytime I go there there’s nothing. Can’t find any back door.

steele9000
steele9000
26 days ago
Reply to  Susan Anderson

Oh, thanks! Disqus, of course.

Akeila
Akeila
23 days ago
Reply to  steele9000

whats a back door?

Amature Met
Amature Met
26 days ago

Good morning ART. I dont see southern component to is movement yet. Still due west.

Art
Art
26 days ago
Reply to  Amature Met

yes we have plenty of time for changes yet..good morning, big cool down in temps here by me this morning..feels fantastic!!

Art
Art
26 days ago
Reply to  Amature Met

yes it must first make landfall into central america then circle around and back out into the carrib then up towards the gulf i guess..still many days before that happens..and,,,could change altogether and go somewhere else…

Art
Art
26 days ago

both Euro and GFS are hinting at us…………..comment image

Art
Art
26 days ago

comment image

Amature Met
Amature Met
26 days ago
Reply to  Art

I dont think either one of those is the current cane. Dr. Levi had a great video on a possibility that some models were picking up on.

Amature Met
Amature Met
26 days ago

I have something called the SOL theory.
If it is a cat five at landfall then basically everyone (hopefully no one) and everything near the land falling eye wall is just SOL.

sdotoole
sdotoole
26 days ago

thanks for the excellent article dr. masters.

Phil
Phil
26 days ago

There is a multi-million dollar Doppler radar station exactly where the eye of the storm hit that island so they should be able to have some measurement from the ground, unless the whole thing was prior “turned off”, or damaged by the storm and data is un-retrievable.

Gavin O'Brien
Gavin O'Brien
24 days ago
Reply to  Phil

Phil,
If the eye crossed the Radar at Virac it is most likely to have been badly damaged or more likely they would have lost power.I was monitoring the PAGASA website and it appears the radar was non operational at the time

Dirk
Dirk
26 days ago

Thanks Dr.Jeff for the history and good info on this, i feel sorry for the people there that are badly hit by this tyfoon as also beeing hit by the hurricanes that made landfall in the U.S.

HadesGodWyvern
HadesGodWyvern
26 days ago

Japan Meteorological Agency
Tropical Cyclone Advisory #45 – 9:00 AM JST November 2 2020
TROPICAL STORM GONI (T2019)
=============================================

At 0:00 AM UTC, Tropical Storm Goni (1000 hPa) located at 14.5N 118.6E has 10 minute sustained winds of 35 knots with gusts of 50 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving west at 12 knots.

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

Dvorak Intensity:

Forecast and Intensity
=========================
12 HRS: 15.1N 116.2E – 35 knots (CAT 1/Tropical Storm) South China Sea
24 HRS: 15.0N 114.7E – 35 knots (CAT 1/Tropical Storm) South China Sea
48 HRS: 14.5N 111.9E – 40 knots (CAT 1/Tropical Storm) South China Sea
72 HRS: 14.2N 109.9E – 35 knots (CAT 1/Tropical Storm) South China Sea

—————————————————————————————-

Japan Meteorological Agency
Tropical Cyclone Advisory #33 – 9:00 AM JST November 2 2020
TROPICAL STORM ATSANI (T2020)
=============================================
Sea East of the Philippines

At 0:00 AM UTC, Tropical Storm Atsani (1002 hPa) located at 17.9N 127.6E has 10 minute sustained winds of 35 knots with gusts of 50 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving west northwest at 10 knots.

Gale Force Winds
=================
190 nm from the center in northwestern quadrant
90 nm from the center in southeastern quadrant

Dvorak Intensity: T2.5-

Forecast and Intensity
=========================
12 HRS: 18.3N 127.5E – 35 knots (CAT 1/Tropical Storm) Sea East of the Philippines
24 HRS: 18.7N 127.3E – 40 knots (CAT 1/Tropical Storm) Sea East of the Philippines
48 HRS: 18.7N 126.8E – 40 knots (CAT 1/Tropical Storm) Sea East of the Philippines
72 HRS: 18.6N 125.7E – 55 knots (CAT 2/Severe Tropical Storm) Sea East of the Philippines

NCHurricane2009
26 days ago

My latest birdseye view chart and post of the Atlantic tropics is up at this link, detailed info on TS Eta. Its already rapidly strengthening, so I stand by my prediction of Eta hitting Nicaragua as a cat 2 at this time.

greiner3
greiner3
26 days ago

The Philippines are SOL.

Also, one would think the Japanese would have something akin to the Hurricane Hunters as hurricanes affect their country and areas where they have trading partners, etc…

O. Smith
O. Smith
26 days ago

Joy –
Dorian made landfall at Elbow Cay, Great Abaco, in the northwestern Bahamas, at 1640 UTC 1 September with estimated winds of 160 kt and a minimum central pressure of 910 mb. quote from NHC.
Dorian was Cat 5 at times, but not when it went ashore in the Bahamas.

https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/data/tcr/AL052019_Dorian.pdf

abacosurf
abacosurf
26 days ago
Reply to  O. Smith

Wrong … Please re-read. Dorian had sustained winds of 185 AT landfall.

Dorian became a category 5 hurricane and then made landfall at Elbow Cay, Great Abaco, in the northwestern Bahamas (Fig. 4), at 1640 UTC 1 September with estimated winds of 160 kt and a minimum central pressure of 910 mb. Dorian was the strongest hurricane in modern records to make landfall in the Bahamas.

O. Smith
O. Smith
26 days ago
Reply to  abacosurf

“estimated winds of 160 kt”…. where do you get 185?

ChanceShowerLA
ChanceShowerLA
26 days ago

Good afternoon everyone….we survived Zeta down by me (SE of Houma, LA)…..my local fire station reported a wind gust of 112 mph…..power and internet has now been restored after a few days. Our house sustained minimal damage (shingles, shutters, trees), which I can attribute to the fast forward speed of Zeta….if it was moving much slower then I cannot image what my area would look like. I didn’t have internet or LTE during Zeta, but I would guess that I came close to the NW/W eye wall….never experienced the calm of the eye, but could see the progression of the winds from east, then north, then west…..all within a span of less than 2 hours…..can’t attach video because of file size, but see attached a picture during Zeta when the winds/rain were so hard that it just appears to look like fog outside….could not see past 25 feet.

Hope everyone stayed safe…..glad it’s over and on to the next one…..2020

IMG_20201028_162610764.jpg
lookoutitsjustabitofwind
lookoutitsjustabitofwind
26 days ago
Reply to  ChanceShowerLA

glad youre OK

Emerson
Emerson
25 days ago
Reply to  ChanceShowerLA

im happy that u survived! 😉

Joy Hughes
Joy Hughes
26 days ago

I look at the list of landfall intensities – what about Hurricane Dorian? Wasn’t that also 185 mph?

Last edited 26 days ago by Joy Hughes
HadesGodWyvern
HadesGodWyvern
27 days ago

Japan Meteorological Agency
Tropical Cyclone Advisory #43 – 3:00 AM JST November 2 2020
TROPICAL STORM GONI (T2019)
=============================================
Over land Bataan province (Luzon/Philippines)

At 18:00 PM UTC, Tropical Storm Goni (1000 hPa) located at 14.5N 120.5E has 10 minute sustained winds of 35 knots with gusts of 50 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving west northwest at 10 knots.

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

Dvorak Intensity:

Forecast and Intensity
=========================
12 HRS: 14.8N 117.9E – 40 knots (CAT 1/Tropical Storm) South China Sea
24 HRS: 14.7N 116.1E – 40 knots (CAT 1/Tropical Storm) South China Sea
48 HRS: 14.8N 112.3E – 45 knots (CAT 1/Tropical Storm) South China Sea
72 HRS: 14.5N 110.0E – 45 knots (CAT 1/Tropical Storm) South China Sea

————————————————————————————–

Japan Meteorological Agency
Tropical Cyclone Advisory #31 – 3:00 AM JST November 2 2020
TROPICAL STORM ATSANI (T2020)
=============================================
Sea East of the Philippines

At 18:00 PM UTC, Tropical Storm Atsani (1000 hPa) located at 16.5N 130.8E has 10 minute sustained winds of 35 knots with gusts of 50 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving west northwest at 10 knots.

Gale Force Winds
=================
190 nm from the center in northwestern quadrant
90 nm from the center in southeastern quadrant

Dvorak Intensity: T2.5-

Forecast and Intensity
=========================
12 HRS: 18.3N 128.9E – 35 knots (CAT 1/Tropical Storm) Sea East of the Philippines
24 HRS: 18.9N 128.7E – 35 knots (CAT 1/Tropical Storm) Sea East of the Philippines
48 HRS: 19.2N 128.3E – 40 knots (CAT 1/Tropical Storm) Sea East of the Philippines
72 HRS: 18.3N 127.3E – 50 knots (CAT 2/Severe Tropical Storm) Sea East of the Philippines