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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The U.S. and Israel will announce tomorrow that they are expanding three agreements on scientific cooperation to include Israeli settlements in the West Bank, Israeli and U.S. officials tell me.

Why it matters: This is a substantial policy shift for the U.S., which did not previously allow its taxpayers' money to be spent in the Israeli settlements.

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

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McConnell: Confirming Amy Coney Barrett will help GOP retain Senate

Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) expressed no regrets about Judge Amy Coney Barrett's controversial confirmation, telling Politico in an interview that he believes the decision to place her on the Supreme Court just a week before the election will help Republicans retain the Senate.

Why it matters: With a week to go until Election Day, many Republicans are concerned that President Trump's unpopularity could cost them the Senate. McConnell has long viewed the transformation of the federal judiciary through the confirmation of young conservative judges as his defining legacy.