Jul 6, 2018 - Science

Super Typhoon Maria sets record, threatens Japan, China

Satellite image of Super Typhoon Maria on July 6, 2018.

Infrared satellite image of Super Typhoon Maria on July 6, 2018. Credit: CIRA/RAMMB.

Super Typhoon Maria rapidly intensified on Thursday, becoming the equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane northwest of Guam. In doing so, it set a rare milestone.

The big picture: Super Typhoon Maria, which had maximum sustained winds of 155 miles per hour on Friday morning ET, is forecast to move northwest during the next few days before making a slight westward turn. Computer models are zeroing in on a landfall in heavily populated areas of coastal China, near Shanghai.

While the storm is likely to be somewhat weaker by the time it makes landfall, it could still strike as a super typhoon or a strong typhoon that would result in widespread flooding, a deadly coastal storm surge, and damage from high winds. Some meteorologists are already sounding the alarm for mainland China.

Between the lines: Hurricane Maria devastated the island of Puerto Rico last year, and at one point was a Category 5 storm. There will never again be another Hurricane Maria in the Atlantic Ocean, since that name was retired by a storm naming committee that is overseen by the World Meteorological Organization.

Record falls: However, there is a separate storm name list for Pacific typhoons, so now we have another powerful "Maria." This sets a record for the first back-to-back storms with the same name to each reach Category 5 intensity, but in different ocean basins.

Go deeper: Track the storm like a meteorologist using free tools from the University of Wisconsin.

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