Typhoon Goni (left) and Typhoon Atsani (right) are forecast to reach super typhoon-status at the same time on Thursday. (JMA)
Twin typhoons are spinning west across the Pacific Ocean — Goni and Atsani — poised to become the sixth and seventh super typhoons of the 2015 season later this week.
The last time there were two super typhoons in the Pacific at the same time was in October 1997, when Super Typhoons Ivan and Joan overlapped. Not coincidentally, 1997 was also the strongest El Niño on record, with sea surface temperatures running far above average across the tropical Pacific Ocean. At the very least, this year’s El Niño could at least rival 1997’s intensity.
Typhoon Goni has been slowly tracking northwest through the Pacific Ocean since Thursday when it formed as a tropical depression. Since then it tracked through the Northern Mariana islands, missing Guam to the south and Saipan to the north. Anderson Air Force Base in Guam recorded wind gusts up to 58 mph, and just over 5 inches of rain. Flash flood warnings were in effect for the island on Sunday.
Just after it cleared the Marianas, Typhoon Goni exploded from the equivalent of a category 1 with 90 mph winds to a category 4 with 135 mph winds in just six hours. Now the powerful typhoon has set its gaze on Taiwan, with the potential to impact the island — if not make direct landfall — later this week.
On Monday morning, Typhoon Goni appeared to be going through an eyewall replacement cycle which would suggest a period of rapid intensification within the next 24 hours or so. But the models disagree on Goni’s future intensity and its track, making it a difficult storm to forecast.
The high-resolution HWRF hurricane model intensifies Typhoon Goni to an astonishingly low 894 millibars — a strong super typhoon — as it approaches Taiwan. The GFS model, on the other hand, keeps Goni much weaker as the storm takes a hard turn to the north before a direct landfall on Taiwan. For the most part, the European model agrees with a track that would avoid Taiwan, but it’s forecasting a stronger intensity for Goni as it passes to the east of the island.
(Joint Typhoon Warning Center)
The Joint Typhoon Warning Center is forecasting Goni to continue west over the next few days and strengthening into the year’s sixth super typhoon on Thursday, just 300 miles southwest of Taiwan. The forecast curves north from there, possibly avoiding landfall in Taiwan, though it’s still very uncertain at this point.
Even in a non-landfall case, the rainfall on Taiwan would be torrential and possibly catastrophic, especially in the areas that are still recuperating from the effects of Typhoon Soudelor, which made landfall in Taiwan about one week ago on Aug. 7. Soudelor dropped an unbelievable 52 inches of rain on the northeast part of Taiwan in Yilan County, where wind gusts also exceeded 100 mph. On the western side of Taiwan, Soudelor spawned at least one tornado that was captured on a motorists dashcam.
To the east, Typhoon Atsani is also gaining strength as it tracks northwest. On Monday morning, Atsani was the equivalent of a category 2, forecast to intensify to super typhoon-status with winds of 150 mph at the same time as its twin typhoon Goni. Models are forecasting Atsani to continue northwest toward Japan through next week, though where or if it will make landfall is still uncertain.
Courtesy of washingtonpost.com