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Typhoon Maria Makes Landfall in Eastern China After Raking Japan's Southern Ryukyu Islands; Typhoon Warnings for Northwestern Taiwan, Eastern China
Typhoon Maria made landfall as a Category 2 in eastern China Wednesday morning local time after hamming Japan's southwesternmost islands and soaking northern Taiwan on Tuesday.
Maria is weakening as it pushes inland across the eastern China provinces of Fujian and southern Zhejiang, well south of Shanghai.
Wind gusts to 101 mph were measured at Miyakojima, with peak sustained winds of 79 mph in the eyewall of Maria, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency. Gusts over 70 mph were also clocked at Ishigaki and Yonaguni.
Heavy rain is still lashing northern Taiwan and eastern China, with rainfall rates over 1 inch per hour, and wind gusts over 60 mph have been measured, according to Taiwan's Central Weather Bureau. Some locations had already picked up over 5 inches of rain from Maria as of Wednesday morning local time.
(INTERACTIVE: Current Radar/Satellite Loop of Typhoon Maria)
Current Satellite, Winds
Winds have subsided on Okinawa. Kadena Air Base reported a few brief periods of tropical-storm-force sustained winds Tuesday, with a peak gust to 58 mph.
Maria remains a Category 2 equivalent system, located more than 125 miles northwest of Taipei, Taiwan, and is moving swiftly westward.
Current Storm Status
Last year, Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico, so you may wonder why you are seeing the name again. We'll answer that question after first laying out the forecast.
Typhoon Maria's Forecast
Typhoon warnings have been posted by Taiwan's Central Weather Bureau for northwestern portions of the island. Heavy rain advisories have also been hoisted over most of the counties of Taiwan.
Typhoon warnings have also been posted by the China Meteorological Agency for parts of Fujian and southern Zhejiang provinces, well south of Shanghai.
Storm-surge flooding will occur in Japan's southwestern Ryukyu Islands, northern Taiwan and eastern China near and to the north of the landfall location.
Maria will weaken quickly over eastern China, tracking west-northwestward into China well to the south of Shanghai.
Heavy rain is likely to trigger flooding and mudslides along the path of Maria, particularly over the higher terrain of northern Taiwan and over interior China.
Why Did the Name 'Maria' Reappear?
The Hurricane Maria that caused catastrophic damage in Puerto Rico had its name retired earlier this year due to the amount and severity of damage and fatalities on the U.S. island territory.
But that name was only retired in one part of the world – the Atlantic Ocean. There are 12 other basins in the world that can have the same names.
Even 2017's catastrophic Hurricane Maria did not end up causing a global retirement for the name.
Usually, names vary quite a bit in different parts of the world due to language and preference differences, but the western Pacific is usually a hodgepodge of names. This is because of how names are chosen in that basin.
(MORE: Why Hurricanes Have Names)
A total of 14 countries select names in that basin, including the United States, Japan and China, and put them into a rotating 140-name list.
Maria, a name submitted by the U.S., was one of the first names used on that list after being submitted in 2000. This was the year the Japan Meteorological Agency took over naming from the U.S. Joint Typhoon Warning Center.
Since then, the name Maria appeared on the lists in the Atlantic and western Pacific numerous times. The name has been used six times worldwide, including two major hurricanes. It has appeared as a typhoon before: once in 2006.
In the Atlantic, the name was on the list as early as 1981 after lists went from 4- to 6-year rotations. It went unused for several years. Then, the name was used three times, each time as a hurricane-strength system, in 2005, 2011 and, of course, in 2017. It will never be used again in the Atlantic.
Typhoon Maria brought heavy rain and strong winds to Guam, leading to some tree damage and power outages. Winds gusted to at least 72 mph at Andersen Air Force Base early Thursday morning.
(INTERACTIVE: Radar/Satellite Loop of Typhoon Maria Near Guam)
According to the U.S. Joint Typhoon Warning Center, Maria rapidly intensified from a 70-mph tropical storm to a Category 5 equivalent super typhoon with 160-mph winds in the 24-hour period ending 8 p.m. EDT Thursday.
While there are no direct measurements of tropical cyclone wind speeds in the western Pacific, this is one of the fastest tropical-storm-to-Category-5 intensification rates on record.
Super Typhoon Forrest strengthened by roughly 100 mph in 24 hours in September 1983 not too far from where Typhoon Maria did, according to NOAA's Hurricane Research Division. Hurricane Wilma deepened by 90 knots – roughly 105 mph – in 24 hours over the Caribbean Sea in 2005. More recently, Hurricane Patricia in the eastern Pacific intensified by 105 knots – 120 mph – over 24 hours in late-October 2015 off Mexico's Pacific coast.
The site of Maria's 30- to 35-mile-wide eye was something to behold in satellite imagery.
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