Typhoon Koinu, a storm equivalent to a Category 4 hurricane, was closing in on southern Taiwan after it strengthened more quickly than anticipated Wednesday.
The storm, packing 130 mph sustained winds, is forecast to bring torrential rains that could trigger floods and landslides, in addition to dangerous seas on Thursday.
A remarkably intense wind gust of 213 mph was recorded Wednesday night on Orchid Island, a volcanic island east of southern Taiwan, at the top of a 1,000 foot hill. If confirmed, this would be one of the strongest wind gusts ever measured on Earth.
As the storm crosses southern Taiwan, its peak winds are forecast to slip to 120 mph, but will remain more than strong enough to topple trees and damage homes and businesses.
After passing Taiwan, Koinu may ultimately follow a path toward southeast China and Hong Kong this weekend into early next week. Although it should weaken significantly by then, its slow movement could allow it to unload flooding rains.
In advance of the storm, roughly 100 flights to and from Taiwan were canceled Wednesday, as were a similar number of local ferries, according to the Associated Press. Schools were also closed in coastal regions and on outlying islands as conditions deteriorated through the day.
Reuters reported that while gusty showers were anticipated in the capital of Taipei, offices and schools there remained open.