Super Typhoon Meranti begins to batter Taiwan

Forecasters predict that Meranti will skate south of Taiwan on Wednesday, avoiding a direct hit, but still battering the island with tropical-storm-force winds and heavy surf and torrential rains, which could produce mudslides in its mountains with rainfall anywhere between 10 and 30 inches in some spots.

A Reuters report said Meranti grew in strength as it neared the Taiwan coast, carrying maximum winds of 216 kilometers per hour (134 mph).

The powerful storm first raked southern Taiwan, bringing winds of up to 230 mph (370 kilometers per hour) - faster than a Formula One race auto - at one point and torrential rains.

"The typhoon is the world's strongest so far this year", weather bureau spokeswoman Hsieh Pei-yun said.

Meranti is the strongest typhoon since Super Typhoon Haiyan in November 2013. Officials in Tawan evacuated nearly 1,800 tourists from offshore islands today and have closed some schools and offices in anticipation of the storms wrath.

Flights and railway services were postponed, while schools and government agencies have been shut on Wednesday.

Internal flights in Taiwan and some in China have been cancelled and many global flights will also be affected by cancellations and delays.

Most domestic flights have been cancelled, including all of those from Kaohsiung airport, where global flights were also severely affected.

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Trees are broken by strong wind on a highway from Pingtung to Kenting in typhoon-hit Taiwan, southeast China, Sept. 14, 2016.

Li Wei-sen also said that around 4,000 military and police personnel have also been deployed in the affected region to prepare for any possible evacuation in the coming hours.

However, China is likely to suffer more serious harm due to the storm, as it will impact the country's Guangdong or Fujian provinces during early Thursday, according to CNN.

Surges are expected off those three provinces on Wednesday and Thursday, officials said.

"The typhoon will bring gales and heavy rains when it makes landfall", Li said.

Ships have been ordered to return to harbor and residents told to stay indoors.

Taiwan, which is a frequent target for powerful Pacific typhoons, has a very good track record of limiting their deadly impacts. In the Northern Hemisphere, if a hurricane is moving to the west like Meranti is doing, the right side would be to the north of the storm, in this case, covering the island of Taiwan.

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