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Infrared satellite image showing Super Typhoon Maria as a Category 5 storm over the Western Pacific on July 8, 2018. Credit: NOAA.

Super Typhoon Maria became a Category 5 storm for the second time in its history on Sunday, with maximum sustained winds of 160 miles per hour. The storm is over the warm waters of the Western Pacific — on a collision course with northern Taiwan, the Ryukyu Islands of Japan and coastal China early this week.

What this means: The storm is close to its maximum intensity now, but it is still projected to be a formidable Category 3 or 4 typhoon when it passes near or to the north of Taipei on July 10, before making landfall in coastal China south of Shanghai the next day.

  • The storm has a large wind field and will bring the potential for heavy rainfall that can cause flooding.
  • Storm track forecasts for hurricanes and typhoons remain more skillful than intensity projections, so it's possible that Super Typhoon Maria will remain a powerful Super Typhoon with sustained winds of at least 150 miles per hour all the way to Taiwan. However, ocean waters with less heat content combined with stronger winds in the upper atmosphere are likely to weaken the storm somewhat.
Zoomed-out perspective of Super Typhoon Maria on July 8, 2018, taken using Japan's Himawari-8 satellite. Credit: CIRA/RAMMB.

Why is there another Category 5 storm named Maria? Considering that Hurricane Maria did so much damage to Puerto Rico and other areas last year, one might think there would never be another tropical cyclone with this name again.

Think again.

  • While the name was retired from the list of Atlantic hurricanes, it remains in the rotating list of names for Northwest Pacific Ocean Basin typhoons.
  • Such lists are overseen by the World Meteorological Organization, a U.N. agency. (In other words, there is a tropical cyclone bureaucracy.)
  • Two storms of the same name in different ocean basins have occurred many times before.

It's unheard of, however, to have back-to-back storms of the same name that both reach Category 5 intensity, in two different ocean basins, one-year-after-another. In this respect, Super Typhoon Maria has set a new and ominous benchmark.

The bottom line: Super Typhoon Maria is likely to cause damage in heavily populated regions of Asia, including northern Taiwan and coastal China, as well as between Shanghai and Fuzhou, China. The U.S. military is closely watching this storm, given the assets deployed to Okinawa, including aircraft at Kadena Air Base.

Go deeper

Cuomo: "No way I resign" after sexual harassment accusations

Cuomo at a Feb. 24 press conference. Photo: Seth Wenig/pool/AFP via Getty Images

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) was defiant on Sunday, stating again that he would not resign even as more former aides have come forward with allegations of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior.

The big picture: Cuomo has denied all sexual harassment allegations against him and said that he "never inappropriately touched anybody." He acknowledged in a statement that "some of the things I have said have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation." Some of the calls for Cuomo to resign have come from within the Democratic party.

N.Y. Times faces culture clashes as business booms

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

New York Times columnist David Brooks' resignation from a paid gig at a think tank on Saturday is the latest in a flurry of scandals that America's biggest and most successful newspaper company has endured in the past year.

Driving the news: Brooks resigned from the Aspen Institute following a BuzzFeed News investigation that uncovered conflicts of interest between his reporting and money he accepted from corporate donors for a project called "Weave" that he worked on at the nonprofit.

America rebalances its post-Trump news diet

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Nearly halfway through President Biden's first 100 days, data shows that Americans are learning to wean themselves off of news — and especially politics.

Why it matters: The departure of former President Trump's once-ubiquitous presence in the news cycle has reoriented the country's attention.

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