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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.

Go deeper

16 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Kevin McCarthy's rude awakening

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Kevin McCarthy is learning you can get torched when you try to make everyone happy, especially after an insurrection.

Why it matters: The House Republican leader had been hoping to use this year to build toward taking the majority in 2022, but his efforts to bridge intra-party divisiveness over the Capitol siege have him taking heat from every direction, eroding his stature both with the public and within his party.

The next big political war: redistricting

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Democrats are preparing a mix of tech and legal strategies to combat expected gerrymandering by Republicans, who are planning to go on legal offense themselves.

Why it matters: Democrats failed to regain a single state legislature on Election Day, while Republicans upped their control to 30 states' Houses and Senates. In the majority of states, legislatures draw new congressional district lines, which can boost a party's candidates for the next decade.

46 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Vaccinations, relief timing dominate Sweet 16 call

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) speaks during a news conference in December with a group of bipartisan lawmakers. Photo: Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Vaccine distribution, pandemic data and a cross-party comity dominated today's virtual meeting between White House officials and a bipartisan group of 16 senators, Senator Angus King told Axios.

Why it matters: Given Democrats' razor-thin majority in both chambers of Congress, President Biden will have to rely heavily on this group of centrist lawmakers — dubbed the "Sweet 16" — to pass any substantial legislation.