Super Typhoon Soudelor threatens China, Taiwan

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Soudelor rapidly intensified on Monday, becoming a super typhoon and reaching the equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane in the Atlantic or Eastern Pacific basins.

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Soudelor rapidly intensified on Monday, becoming a super typhoon and reaching the equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane in the Atlantic or Eastern Pacific basins. Soudelor reached peak intensity late Monday with winds near 290 kph (180 mph) making it the strongest tropical cyclone anywhere on the planet this year.

Super Typhoon Soudelor will remain a powerful tropical cyclone as it crosses the West Pacific, eventually threatening Taiwan and eastern China later this week.

The center of Soudelor passed directly over the island of Saipan, to the north of Guam with Category 2 hurricane-force winds on Sunday night.

Winds to near 170 kph (105 mph) were reported on Saipan as the eyewall of Soudelor passed over the island. Guam to the south was largely spared any damaging winds as gusts reached 50-65 kph (30-40 mph) for several hours.

Warm ocean water and low wind shear will allow Soudelor to remain a power tropical cyclone over the next several days as it moves over the open waters of the West Pacific.

There is growing concern that Taiwan and the southern Ryukyu Islands will have to contend with Soudelor as early as Thursday night into Friday with impacts lasting into early next week across eastern China.

Even if Soudelor begins to weaken prior to reaching Taiwan and China, it is still expected to be a significant typhoon during this time, so residents from Shanghai to Taipei should already being making initial preparations for the storm.

Rainfall totals of 125-250 mm (5-10 inches) are likely across the southern Ryukyu Islands and in northern Taiwan, including Taipei with locally higher amounts. Across the mountainous terrain of northern and western Taiwan, more than 500 mm (20 inches) of rain is likely. This amount of rainfall can trigger mudslides and produce widespread flash flooding.

Damaging winds will also be a primary concern across northern Taiwan and the southern Ryukyu Islands where wind gusts over 160 kph (100 mph) are expected. Even in the sheltered areas of Taipei wind gusts can reach 120 kph (75 mph).

Further weakening is expected prior to Soudelor, making landfall in eastern China late Friday night or Saturday; however, flooding rainfall and damaging winds are still a concern. Flooding will be a concern from Fujian and Jiangxi provinces northward to Anhui and Jiangsu provinces from Saturday into early next week.

While the strongest winds will be confined to northern Fujian Province, isolated damaging winds are still possible in parts of Jiangxi, Zhejiang, Anhui and Jiangsu provinces as Soudelor moves inland and weakens further.

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