Super Typhoon Soudelor is headed straight toward Taipei, the capital of Taiwan.
While a direct hit is not guaranteed, it’s certainly possible at this point, reported ABC News.
For now, Soudelor has weakened from was what considered a super typhoon to the equivalent of a category 3 hurricane, but the Japan Meteorological Agency is predicting that it will strengthen once again late on Thursday.
Winds are now at 120 miles per hour and are expected to reach up to 140 miles per hour as the storm strengthens.
The storm is projected to strengthen just before it approaches the southwestern Japanese islands and Taiwan early Friday, and it could hit a region of southeast China that has a population of 200 million people after that.
“Even if Soudelor begins to weaken prior to reaching Taiwan, it is still expected to be a significant typhoon during this time, so residents should already being making initial preparations for the storm,” noted AccuWeather.
Rainfall totals of 2 to 4 inches are expected across the islands and Taiwan, including Taipei. Heavier rain in the mountainous regions in the country could trigger mudslides and flash flooding.
This could be the strongest typhoon to landfall in Taiwan in three years, weather hurricane specialist Michael Lowry said.
But while Taiwan has seen 18 Category 4 or stronger equivalent typhoon landfalls since 1958, only 10 of those have tracked within 65 nautical miles of Taipei.
Meanwhile, the main Okinawa island in Japan lies north of the forecasted path.
— NASA (@NASA) August 5, 2015
Still, Kadena Air Base was put under a tropical cyclone condition of readiness.
The storm already hit Saipan, an island that’s part of the U.S. commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
High winds downed power poles, removed roofs off buildings, and flooded the island’s power plant, the Red Cross told the Associated Press.
“I haven’t seen a storm like this in 20 years,” Gregorio Kilili Camcacho Sablan, Northern Mariana Islands’ delegate to the United States congress, told the AP. “Unfortunately, the resources we have are hardly enough to get things up.”
“From looking at the damage, I would guess weeks to months to restore power. It took about three to six months to restore service on Guam after Pongsona,” Dr. Phillip Dauterman added to the Pacific Daily News in an email. “This is not the total damage of Pongsona, but it is close.”