Super Typhoon Meranti made close approach to southern Taiwan with one-minute sustained winds of 305 kilometers per hour (190 mph), among the strongest tropical cyclones on record. Meranti rendered significant flooding and wind impacts to southern Taiwan, with nearly 800 millimeters (32 inches) of rainfall for some locations. Meranti then weakened to make final landfall on Mainland China in Fujian Province with one-minute sustained winds of 170 kilometers per hour (105 mph). Meranti rendered significant flood impacts and damage to infrastructure following final landfall. At least 11 fatalities and 82 injuries have been reported. Our first thoughts and concerns are with those lost and directly affected by this event.
In the Northwest Pacific Basin, Super Typhoon Meranti was first classified by the JTWC as a tropical depression at 18 UTC, September 8, and then upgraded to a tropical storm at 00 UTC, September 10. Meranti then gained intensity to become a typhoon at 06 UTC, September 11, with one-minute sustained winds of 130 kilometers per hour (80 mph). A period of rapid intensification then followed, enabled by warm waters and reduced wind shear. Meranti strengthened to carry one-minute sustained winds of 290 kilometers per hour (180 mph) at 12 UTC, September 12, a strong Category 5 on the Saffir-Simpson Scale.
Meranti track and position reports. Source: Guy Carpenter, Joint Typhoon Warning Center
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Over the next 24 hours, the center of Meranti passed just to the south of Taiwan, with one-minute sustained winds as high as 305 kilometers per hour (190 mph). During this time rainfall amounts exceeding 500 millimeters (20 inches) were reported in southern Taiwan to cause flooding. Nearly 800 millimeters (32 inches) of rainfall was reported in Xidawushan, a mountainous location about 25 miles east of Kaohsiung. Waves of 10 meters (33 feet) were reported in southern Taitung County. Kaohsiung International Airport reported sustained winds of 114 kilometers per hour (71 mph), with gusts to 180 kilometers per hour (112 mph).
Meranti began to weaken during this time due to escalating wind shear and land interaction while approaching the coast of Mainland China. According to media reports, the typhoon made final landfall on Mainland China in Xiamen early Thursday, with one-minute sustained winds of around 170 kilometers per hour (105 mph), a Category 2 on the Saffir-Simpson Scale. The Xiamen Airport reported wind gusts of 140 kilometers per hour (87 mph). Rainfall amounts of at least 400 millimeters (15.75 inches) were reported in Zhejiang Province to cause flooding.
Super Typhoon Meranti was among the strongest tropical cyclones on record, and is also the strongest typhoon to affect the Fujian Province since 1949.
Another Typhoon, Malakas, is on a northwest heading to pass near northern Taiwan over the next 24 hours. Malakas carries one-minute sustained winds of 205 kilometers per hour (125 mph).
Media reports indicate at least one fatality and 44 injuries. Evacuations affected at least 1,000, affecting areas including Pingtung County due to rising flood waters. Flood waters affected at least 700,000 homes according to media reports. Downed power poles and power lines were also reported, with uprooted trees for southwestern Taiwan. Disruption to power and water has affected at least 600,000 homes according to media reports. Overturned trucks were also reported. In the port city of Kaohsiung, at least ten cargo ships broke from their anchors, including a 140,000 ton vessel that impacted two cargo cranes, according to reports. Many cargo stacked containers were scattered during passage of Meranti. Reports also indicate a small lighthouse destroyed in southern Taitung County. School and office closures, along with severe travel disruption and cancellation of over 300 flights and trains were reported.
In Mainland China, media reports indicate at least ten dead and nine missing, with 38 injured. At least 33 million have been displaced as a result of the typhoon and 1,600 homes have been reported destroyed. The storm affected southern Fujian Province to cause damage to water infrastructure, with flooded streets, downed trees and destroyed cars. Roof damage has also been reported in affected areas. Reports indicate three downed power transmission towers and power outages to have affected well over one million according to reports. An 871 year-old bridge, a cultural landmark, has been reported destroyed in Yongchun County. Shattered windows were reported for affected tall buildings. Severe disruption to travel including cancelled trains and flights has been reported.
Media reports indicate that the eye of Meranti passed directly over the Philippine island of Itbayat, and the severity of impacts remains unclear.
Sources: Joint Typhoon Warning Center, Japan Meteorological Agency, Weather Underground, Agence France Presse, Reuters.
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