Taiwan braces for the arrival of Super Typhoon Nepartak, a category 5 storm

Taiwan is bracing for the arrival of Super Typhoon Nepartak, which is expected to hit the island late Thursday afternoon or evening, local time.

The monster storm is expected to bring torrential rain, battering waves, and ferocious winds of 175 mph, according to Weather.com. It poses a threat not only to Taiwan, but also to Japan’s southwest Ryukyu Islands and eastern China.

Nepartak, named after a Micronesian warrior, formed on Sunday and became stronger by Wednesday, prompting the Joint Typhoon Warning Center to upgrade it to Category 5 status.

It is the strongest tropical cyclone in the Northern Hemisphere so far this year and the strongest typhoon since Super Typhoon Souldelor in August 2015.

The storm is forecasted to cross Taiwan’s central mountainous county of Hualien and the island itself could see nearly three feet of rain from the massive typhoon, according to USA Today.

Potentially deadly flash flooding, mudslides, and rockslides are likely to occur due to these heavy rains in the mountainous terrain, reports Weather.com.

Taiwan’s military has mobilized 35,000 troops in advance of the storm. Thousands of tourists have been evacuated from offshore islands, according to the BBC, including such popular tourist spots as the Green and Orchid Islands. Measures have also been taken to ensure that the Taoyuan Airport does not become flooded.

Typhoons are not different than hurricanes, they are simply called typhoons when they occur west of the International Date Line. They become Super Typhoons when their sustained winds reach 150 mph (which is equivalent to a strong Category 4 hurricane.)

Storms of Nepartak’s intensity are much more common in the western Pacific basin than the Atlantic or Eastern Pacific basins. Taiwan is often hit by typhoons. In 2015, Super Typhoon Dujuan killed three people and injured over 300. That same year, Typhoon Soudelor killed eight people in Taiwan and 21 in China.

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