As of 7AM, typhoon Rolly (Goni) is barreling its way towards the Bicol region. It packs maximum sustained winds at 215 km/h; 130 mph (115 knots) making it a Category 5 Super typhoon according to local weather bureau PAGASA: “the center of the eye of the typhoon is forecast to pass very close or over the Calaguas Islands tomorrow afternoon and make landfall over Polillo Islands and mainland Quezon tomorrow evening.“
This makes it this year’s strongest typhoon in the Western Pacific so far. Here’s a comparison to the most recent super typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) which devastated the country in 2013:
|Haiyan (Yolanda) c 2013||Goni (Rolly)|
|10-minute sustained: 230 km/h (145 mph)|
1-minute sustained: 315 km/h (195 mph)
|115 knots (215 km/h; 130 mph) (10-min mean)|
155 knots (285 km/h; 180 mph) (1-min mean)
gusting to 165 knots (305 km/h; 190 mph)
How did Goni got so powerful? The same way favorable conditions gave rise to Yolanda seven years ago:
First, it formed in the open ocean, and thus no land mass prevented it from forming a symmetrical circular pattern, which helps a cyclone form and gather steam, he said.
Second, ocean temperatures are incredibly warm, topping out at 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius). Just as important, the warm water also extends deep into the ocean, meaning that upwelling caused by the winds will not churn up cold water, which dampens cyclone power, McNoldy said. Tropical cyclones are basically giant heat engines, powered by the transfer of heat from the ocean to the upper atmosphere.
Third, there is very little wind shear in the area at this time, McNoldy said. Wind shear, a difference in wind speed or direction with increasing altitude, tears developing hurricanes apart, and prevents them from strengthening.
In its wake, Yolanda left some 6,000 dead and Php95.5 billion ($2.2 billion USD) in damages.
Preparations have already started yesterday with preemptive evacuations in areas that lie in the storm’s path. Hopefully, it would be enough to minimize if not prevent the the loss of life. The next three days will be a tough one for all.