“Strongest landfalling cyclone in history” devastates eastern Philippines, causing catastrophic damage to Catanduanes Island

Super Typhoon Goni, the equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane, slammed the eastern portion of the Philippines on the morning of Sunday, 1 November and crossed several provinces, moving close to the capital Manila, before heading to the South China Sea. Most of the fatalities (currently known to be at least 16) were in Albay and Catanduanes provinces south of Manila.

Goni (known as ’Rolly’ in the Philippines) made landfall near Bato, Catanduanes Island, Philippines, with sustained winds of 195 mph and a central pressure of 884 mb, according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC).

This makes Goni 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, according to Jeff Masters, a meteorologist with Yale Climate Connections.

The previous record was held by Super Typhoons Meranti and Haiyan, which hit the Philippines in 2016 and 2013 respectively.

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 database.

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). The typhoon passed about 45 miles to the south of Manila as a tropical storm with 70 mph winds, and the highest winds observed at Ninoy Aquino International Airport were 28 mph, gusting to 40 mph.

”The full scope of the damage wrought by Goni in the Philippines 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,” noted Masters. “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%.”