Philippines Braces for New Storm Days After Typhoon Kills 16 People

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Typhoon Goni is rapidly strengthening as it heads for the northern Philippines, where it could cause nearly $7 billion in losses and damages just days after a storm left at least 16 dead and sent thousands into emergency shelters.

Goni’s winds are forecast to reach 150 miles (241 kilometers) per hour on U.S. scales, weakening only slightly as it nears central Luzon, north of Manila, early next week, according to the U.S. Joint Typhoon Warning Center.

The U.S. measures wind speed on a different scale than most other countries, so its values tend to be higher.

Goni “looks like it is going to ramp up pretty quickly over the next couple of days,” said Rob Miller, a meteorologist with AccuWeather Inc. “It looks like a pretty sizable storm.”

It comes after Typhoon Molave killed at least 16 people and affected more than a million more, with 300,000 fleeing their homes. Before heading to Vietnam, the 17th typhoon to enter the Philippines damaged nearly 1.5 billion pesos ($31 million) of crops and destroyed 23,500 houses, according to authorities.

Goni will definitely reached Category 4 strength on the U.S. Saffir-Simpson scale, said Jeff Masters, a meteorologist with Yale Climate Connections. A Category 4 storm will cause catastrophic damage, ripping walls off buildings, snapping trees and devastating the landscape.

What may save the Philippines is that Goni is a relatively small storm, but its compact nature means it could even grow stronger, Masters said. Goni could reach Category 5 strength, which is the top of the scale. It would be the first storm to get that powerful in the western Pacific this year.

Goni could cause at least $6.7 billion in losses and damages as it rips across the Philippines, said Chuck Watson, a disaster modeler with Enki Research.

On its current track, which could change, the storm should pass to the north of Manila and the capital most likely won’t see a lot of damage, Masters said.

After it crosses the Philippines, Goni will likely drive into Vietnam, which has been pounded by tropical cyclones this year. “They have got womped this year, four tropical cyclones in October,” Masters said. “Strong typhoons don’t hit Vietnam all that often.”

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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