Taiwan braces for Typhoon Nepartak, 200 mph winds expected

TAIPEI, Taiwan, July 7 (UPI) — Thousands of people in Taiwan have been evacuated ahead of a powerful typhoon packing wind gusts in excess of 200 mph and more than 3 feet of rain, which could usher in landslides and flash flooding.

Super Typhoon Nepartak is expected to cross the island country’s central mountainous region Thursday into Friday. The storm is positioned to also threaten Japan’s Ryuku Islands and eastern China. Flights to and from the area have been canceled and some 35,000 soldiers have been put on standby. Maximum wave height is 43 feet.

Mandarin Airlines, TransAsia Airways and Air China are among the many carriers that canceled flights to China, and northeast and southeast Asia. Train service has been suspended. The national agriculture and food agency said vegetable prices increased about 20 percent as consumers stocked up before local markets closed ahead of the storm. There is no food shortage, however.

The storm, named after a Micronesian warrior, is expected to weaken as it crosses the mountainous terrain of Taiwan, but will reorganize as a tropical storm or typhoon in the Taiwan Strait to move into southeast China.

Taiwan has been hit by storms in the past, but this is the first since December 2015, the country’s longest period without a named storm.

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