Typhoon Soulik has approached super typhoon status, with winds of greater than 240 kph (150 mph), at times as it barrels westward on a track to northern Taiwan and mainland China.
The highest winds of Soulik have backed off to 175 kph (110 mph) with gusts over 200 kph (130 mph). The latest storm movement is toward the west at 23 kph (14 mph). Despite some weakening due to dry air, Soulik is still a very strong storm.
The dangerous storm is expected to hold its potentially devastating strength, or slightly strengthen, over the next day or so before weakening a bit as it nears Taiwan. A potential landfall on northern Taiwan could happen Friday afternoon.
Weakening aside, Typhoon Soulik will not spare northern Taiwan from life-threatening wind, rain and tide. Winds near the coasts of northern Taiwan as well as the southern Ryukyu Islands could gust as high as 200 kph (125 mph). Winds in the major city of Taipei could top 120 kph (75 mph), with potential serious structural damage.
Wind speeds of 160 km/h converts to 100 mph and 100-200 mm is 4-8 inches, locally up to 12 inches.
Water levels along coastal locations are expected to become life-threatening and capable of extensive damage to structures on the beach. Water levels will rise as high as 2.5-5 m (8-16 feet) above normal high tide level, with the highest levels found in bays and lagoons that curve inland.
Rainfall will generally range from 100-200 mm (4-8 inches) across most areas, but in the higher terrain of Taiwan, rainfall amounts can reach 30-60 cm (1-2 feet), generating flash flooding and mudslides.
East-central China, in particular the provinces of Fujian and Zhejiang, will be at risk of damaging winds and flooding rain on Saturday. The result of a major hit on these provinces is potentially devastating, as this is one of the most populous regions of the world, home to over 90 million people. The worst of Soulik seems set to track south of Shanghai, one of the most populous cities in the world.
Soulik is expected to make landfall on Saturday afternoon in northern Fujian or perhaps southernmost Zhejiang province between the cities of Fuzhou and Wenzhou.
Typhoon Soulik continues to trek westward toward Taiwan. Credit: NOAA
If not significantly weakened in its interaction with mountainous Taiwan, Soulik could still pack enough punch to deliver winds to of about 160 kph (100 mph) near its expected landfall in China.
Rainfall amounts of 125-250 mm (5-10 inches) will be widespread along the direct storm track these eastern provinces of China, as well as easternmost Jiangxi province farther inland. Local amounts over 30 cm (1 foot) are also possible.
AccuWeather.com Meteorologist Dan DePodwin also contributed to this story.
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