Super Typhoon Meranti, the strongest storm of the year, hit mainland China early this morning after hitting Taiwan on Wednesday.

The storm has weakened since its peak on Wednesday, when it was a Category 5 storm, and is now the equivalent of a Category 2 or 3 hurricane, according to USA Today. At one point Meranti had sustained winds of nearly 200 mph.

The typhoon is the strongest storm to hit the region since typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines in 2013, leaving major devastation in its wake.

The storm hit China’s Fujian province early this morning.  

In Taiwan, more than 1 million households lost power and hundreds more were evacuated, according to China’s Xinhua news agency.

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Two people were reportedly killed while the storm was battering Taiwan, according to USA Today. One of them was a 58-year-old fisherman swept into the sea, Xinhua reported.

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China declared a red typhoon warning, its most serious alert, earlier this week in anticipation of the storm and its ability to produce waves potentially reaching over 40 feet in height.

"It only took nine hours for Meranti to grow into a super typhoon from a typhoon," Zhang Dong, a forecaster with the Guangdong provincial meteorologic station.

said. "Packing winds between 202 to 220 kilometers per hour, it is interacting with another storm, Malakas, 1,000 kilometers away, and the route could be hard to predict."

Meranti is the strongest storm of 2016 and one of three of the most powerful typhoons ever recorded.

Photos circulating social media Thursday morning showed immediate destruction throughout both Taiwan and China.

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Trees are fallen, cars trapped on roads as #TyphoonMeranti pelts China's Xiamen with rains, winds after landfall

CNN characterized the 230 mph winds hitting Taiwan as being “faster than a Formula One race car” but with the addition of torrential rains.

Hundreds of flights and trains have been canceled in both countries, according to Xinhua.

Taiwan’s Central Emergency Operating Center told CNN that 4,000 military and police personnel were on-hand in affected areas to facilitate evacuations but the center did not expect major destruction.

Recent studies show that climate change is impacting hurricanes and typhoons in two different ways. The warming oceans are causing storms to be more intense and powerful, but there are occurring less frequently.


Defend the Planet

Super Typhoon Meranti Makes Landfall in China as Strongest Storm of 2016

By Colleen Curry