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Typhoon Soudelor: heading for Taiwan, then China.

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.

Even though Soudelor has weakened, it 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.

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

Rainfall totals of 50-100 mm (2-4 inches) are likely across the southern Ryukyu Islands with 125-250 mm (5-10 inches) falling over northern Taiwan, including Taipei with locally higher amounts. Across the mountainous terrain of Taiwan, more than 500 mm (20 inches) of rain is likely. This amount of rainfall can trigger mudslides and produce widespread flash flooding.


Jane Clemens