A killer typhoon spun closer to Hong Kong on Tuesday, forcing the city to urge small ships and fishing boats to seek shelter from the storm — the strongest on record to enter the South China Sea in May.

Typhoon Chanchu's eye was expected to pass just east of Hong Kong on Wednesday before slamming into Guangdong province on China's eastern coast, the Hong Kong Observatory said.

CountryWatch: China

Chanchu, which means "pearl" in Chinese, was about 267 miles south-southeast of Hong Kong late Tuesday, the observatory said. It was moving at 10 mph and packing winds of 98 mph near the storm's center, it said.

The observatory forecast the typhoon would be closest to Hong Kong late Wednesday.

The storm was the strongest typhoon ever to be reported in the South China Sea in May, the observatory said. It roared toward Hong Kong after striking the Philippines last weekend, killing at least 37 people and leaving thousands homeless.

As Chanchu came nearer, the observatory issued a warning that urged small ships and fishing boats to seek shelter soon. It also said people should stay away from the shoreline because of the threat of swells.

Meanwhile, Taiwan on Tuesday issued a sea warning for Chanchu, calling on all maritime traffic west and south of the island to prepare for strong winds.

The storm was not expected to hit Taiwan directly, but its strong winds could threaten shipping in the 100-mile-wide Taiwan Strait between the island and China, the Central Weather Bureau said.

Typhoons and tropical storms frequently hit Taiwan in summer and autumn, triggering deadly flash floods and landslides on the crowded, mountainous island.