Massive Storms Hit Philippines and Central American In The Same Week

Image: Pixaby

As Yale Climate Connections reported, Super Typhoon Goni made landfall near Bato, Catanduanes Island, Philippines, at 4:50 a.m. local time on November 1 with sustained winds of 195 mph. Goni was the strongest landfalling tropical cyclone in world recorded history.

As Kasha Patel of the NASA Earth Observatory wrote, on Catanduanes Island, where the storm initially made landfall, up to 90% of buildings were destroyed.

  • Though the national capital, Manila, was largely spared, the storm destroyed tens of thousands of homes on the island, displaced more than 300,000 people, and killed at least 20 people.

Just after Goni, Hurricane Eta caused widespread damage to Nicaragua and Honduras and is set to recharge in warm Caribbean waters as it heads toward Cuba and Florida.

Why This Matters: One more named storm would mean that 2020 would set the record for the busiest Atlantic hurricane season ever. And the incidence of “zombie storms” reveals the footprint of climate change on these hurricanes

In the Philippines, rising seas and a warmer climate bring immense threats from incoming storms.

As Jacques Fallaria, a 19-year-old Filipino climate activist explained to the Independent,

“The situation we are in right now should send proof to our world leaders that climate change is real and institutions should be held accountable for what has just happened in our country.”

Storms and Climate Change: As Climate Signals, a climate attribution source, explained,

Hurricanes are fueled by ocean heat. As climate change warms sea surfaces, the heat available to power hurricanes has increased, raising the limit for potential hurricane wind speed and with that an exponential increase in potential wind damage. There is strong evidence that climate change may be responsible for the recent observed increase in the intensity, as measured by wind speeds and central pressure, of tropical cyclones.

An analysis from earlier this year of satellite images dating to 1979, shows that our warming planet has increased the likelihood of a hurricane developing into a major one of Category 3 or higher, with sustained winds greater than 110 miles an hour, by about 8% a decade.

The most inequitable part of this is that the countries least responsible for climate change (like the Philippines, Nicaragua, and Honduras) will continue to face the worst effects of stronger and more frequent storms. It’s imperative that the governments of the United States, China, and Europe work to drastically lower emissions and provide support to nations grappling with the externalities of climate change.


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