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Super Typhoon Meranti threatens Taiwan, China packing 185 mph winds

By Andrew V. Pestano and Doug G. Ware
Super Typhoon Meranti threatens Taiwan, China packing 185 mph winds
Super Typhoon Meranti, seen here in satellite imagery, is expected to bring winds over 150 mph and, at worst, up to 30 inches of rain in Taiwan and mainland China through Thursday. Image courtesy of NASA Goddard MODIS Rapid Response

TAIPEI, Taiwan, Sept. 13 (UPI) -- Super Typhoon Meranti has become the most powerful storm on Earth in 2016.

The massive storm is expected to make landfall in Taiwan and mainland China on Wednesday, officials said, bringing with it powerful winds and torrential rains.

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With sustained winds Tuesday of 185 mph, it's gone on record as this year's strongest storm -- and was able to keep up that intensity for nearly 24 hours, according to meteorologists.

Meranti grew from a Category 1 storm equivalent 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 to make its way through the Luzon Strait toward China.

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"This puts Meranti in the elite pantheon of the deepest tropical cyclones ever recorded anywhere on Earth," Weather Underground expert Jeff Masters said. "Several others have had 890-millibar central pressure, but only a few have dipped below that mark, including 3 hurricanes in the Atlantic and 13 typhoons in the Northwest Pacific."

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Even if Meranti doesn't make a direct hit on Taiwan, forecasters say it will still rattle the capital of Taipei.

Flash floods and mudslides could occur in Taiwan, particularly in central Taiwan's mountainous terrain.

From 10 inches to 30 inches of rain is forecast to fall in Taiwan through Thursday. Meranti follows July's Typhoon Nepartak, which killed at least 12 people in China and Taiwan.

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