2 typhoons over Pacific: 1 could strike Japan, clip Philippines, Taiwan

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Animated gif of two typhoons.

(Aug. 20, 2015) — Two typhoons roil over the Pacific, captured in a spectacular satellite photo, but only Typhoon Goni is projected to make landfall, clipping the Philippines, Taiwan and then possibly striking southern Japan.

Super Typhoon Atsani, though more powerful, with winds of 155 mph gusting to 186 mph, is forecast to spin over open waters, curving east, well south of Japan, said CNN Meteorologist Brandon Miller.

The northern extremes of the Philippines are already feeling the windy wrath of Goni, whose gales were blowing at 133 mph with gusts of 161 mph, according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center. Goni is now about 90 miles from the northeast tip of Luzon in the Philippines.

Goni is expected to exacerbate monsoons in the Philippines and may dump heavy rain over Manila and western Luzon, Miller said.

Goni is then expected to stay east of Taiwan, but tropical force winds and rough surf will pummel the eastern portion of the island over the weekend. The storm will then move over the Japanese Ryuku Islands, including a near pass to Okinawa on Monday and could reach southern mainland Japan on Tuesday, but as a weaker typhoon, Miller said.

Could we see two super typhoons, a rarity?

Twin typhoons are common in the western Pacific, occurring several times a year, but two super typhoons at the same time would be rare event, Miller said.

Goni would become a super typhoon if its winds strengthen slightly by 18 mph, Miller said.

If so, “it would be the first time we have had two super typhoons in the west Pacific at the same time since 1997,” Miller said.

That year was also the last major El Nino event — which is also forecast later this year with a similar strength, Miller said.

El Nino is a warming of the eastern Pacific Ocean mainly along the equator, but more broadly, those warm waters trigger profound events across half the planet, from heavy rains in California, fires in Australia, and more and stronger typhoons in the western Pacific.

So far, 2015 has seen five super typhoons in the western Pacific, when there’s typically only one at this point in the year, he said.