XIAMEN, China, Sept. 14 (UPI) — Super Typhoon Meranti hit mainland China on Wednesday afternoon, just hours after grazing Taiwan — bringing soaking rains and extremely strong winds.
Meranti, downgraded to typhoon status Wednesday, is the strongest storm of 2016 so far and the most devastating typhoon since Super Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines three years ago. On the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, it’s comparable to a category 4 hurricane.
When the storm hit China, it was still packing strong winds of 145 mph and gusts of up to 175 mph. Assessments of damage and injuries were not immediately clear.
The Meranti system is expected to sustain most of its current strength due to high sea temperatures, low wind shear and high atmospheric humidity.
As the typhoon moves inland away from the ocean, it will continue to weaken. Flash flooding, heavy rain and strong winds will persist for another 48 hours, however, according to meteorologists. Mudslides are also expected in some areas.
In an update earlier Wednesday, Taiwan’s Central Weather Bureau said Meranti arrived with maximum sustained winds of 115 mph and wind gusts of 140 mph.
Meranti grew to a Category 5 hurricane equivalent in just 36 hours as it barreled through the Pacific Ocean near the South China Sea and East China Sea in recent days.
In Taiwan, schools and businesses closed due to the storm, at least two people were hurt and a half-million homes lost electricity. Nearly 400 domestic and international flights were also canceled.
Another storm, Typhoon Malakas, is expected to make landfall in China on Saturday.
Video: CBS Los Angeles