July 10 (UPI) -- Typhoon Maria pummeled Japan's southwestern islands Tuesday and is headed toward Taiwan, forecasters said.
Maria left Miyako Island, southwest of Okinawa, after pounding the area with 127 mph winds and 155 mph gusts, the Joint Typhoon Warning Center said. Areas of Japan already flooded from previous rains were spared a direct hit from the typhoon, but the Ryukyu Islands were not.
Severe flooding in Japan was caused by Typhoon Prapiroon, which unleashed heavy rains last week.
Maria will skirt the northern part of Taiwan and move towards Fujian and Zhejiang through Wednesday. It is projected to make landfall over south-central China Wednesday with 90 mph winds.
Maria is expected to pass within 60 miles of Taiwan's capital, Taipei, early Wednesday if it remains on its present course, forecasters said.
Officials closed schools and offices in Taiwan Tuesday as Maria neared.
The Central Weather Bureau issued a land warning overnight, as the eye of the storm approached near Yilan.
Extremely heavy rain is forecast through Wednesday and could bring 7 inches in a 24-hour period, and as many as 4 inches in just a few hours. Other areas could see 13 inches.
Winds of 30 knots, level 7 on the Beaufort wind scale, are also expected to pass through Taiwan, which could result in heavy tree damage and strong resistance when walking.