Days after being hit by Typhoon Molave, the Philippines braced itself as another storm, Super Typhoon Goni, made landfall on Saturday. Goni is a Category Five storm and is the strongest to make landfall this year so far.
The storm, known locally as “Rolly,” prompted the evacuation of almost a million residents in the southern part of Luzon, the Philippines’ main island as well as its most populous, Reuters reported. Goni made landfall with unbelievable sustained winds of 314 km/h in the eastern part of the country on the island of Catanduanes. Filipino weather officials expected the storm to weaken slightly while over Luzon in the next few hours.
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The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration, the country’s weather agency also known as PAGASA, said in a weather bulletin that within the next 12 hours, it expected Catanduanes and Luzon to experience catastrophic violent winds and intense torrential rainfall. This will create a particularly dangerous situation for those areas, PAGASA affirmed.
“We are having a hard time with covid-19, and then here comes another disaster,” Sen. Christopher Go, the top aide of Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte, said in a news conference, per Reuters.
Officials said that roughly 1,000 covid-19 patients housed in large isolation tents in Manila, the capital, and Bulacan province could be transferred to hotels and hospitals. The Philippines has reported more than 380,000 cases of covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, and more than 7,200 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins.
Staying safe during natural disasters has become more complicated during the coronavirus pandemic. For instance, it requires people to take additional precautions when using transportation to evacuate and in public shelters, such as maintaining social distancing, using masks and keeping hands clean.
PAGASA expects Goni will exit mainland Luzon and emerge over the Philippine Sea over the next few hours. Although the agency said that the storm would weaken over Luzon, it predicted that Goni would emerge as a typhoon over the West Philippine Sea.
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The Philippines, unfortunately, is very familiar with typhoons. It experiences an average of 20 typhoons every year. According to the Weather Channel, Goni is the strongest typhoon to make landfall on the planet since 2013’s Super Typhoon Haiyan, which also struck the Philippines and killed more than 6,000 people.
Last week, Typhoon Molave killed 22 people, Reuters reported. The main cause of death was drowning.
And Goni is not the last storm on the horizon. PAGASA is also monitoring Tropical Depression Atsani near Luzon. Atsani is expected to become a typhoon over the next few days.