Soudelor remains a powerful typhoon as it barrels toward Taiwan with destructive winds and life-threatening flooding rain. Eastern China will then become Soudelor's final target.
While no longer a super typhoon, Soudelor is still a very dangerous typhoon with its strength equal to that of a Category 3 hurricane in the eastern Pacific or Atlantic oceans.
AccuWeather Meteorologist Anthony Sagliani expects Soudelor to maintain that intensity until landfall in Hualien County, Taiwan, early Saturday morning local time (Friday afternoon EDT).
Lives and property will be threatened throughout Taiwan as Soudelor approaches, then crosses the island into Saturday and unleashes destructive winds and extremely heavy rainfall.
"Soudelor is a large storm in terms of the overall area of its tropical storm- and typhoon-force winds," stated Sagliani. "It is likely that the entire island of Taiwan will see at least tropical storm-force winds [winds in excess of 60 kph/38 mph] and one-half of the island will see typhoon-force winds [winds of 119 kph/74 mph or greater]."
As of Friday evening local time, AccuWeather Meteorologist Dave Samuhel reports that Soudelor produced a wind gust of 142 kph (88 mph) at Su'ao on the northeast coast of Taiwan. A mountaintop in Datong Township in Yilan County has already been inundated with nearly 371 mm (14.60 inches) of rain.
Residents are strongly urged to seek shelter during the height of the storm to protect themselves against flying debris as widespread structural and tree damage ensues.
Sagliani expects east-central Taiwan, including the Hualien City, to face the most destructive winds with sustained winds over 160 kph (100 mph).
"Significant flooding is likely across many areas of Taiwan with a high threat for landslides in the higher terrain," Sagliani continued. Most of the lower elevations will see rainfall amounts exceed 200 mm (8 inches) with the mountains being inundated with 500 to 760 mm (20 to 30 inches) or more.
An inundating storm surge will also further flood the eastern coast of Taiwan, near and north of where Soudelor moves inland.
Soudelor's track and the sheltering effect from the mountains to the east will allow the city of Taipei to escape the worst of the typhoon, but that does not mean that residents should let their guard down.
"Sustained winds of 80 to 95 kph (50 to 60 mph) with gusts over 120 kph (75 mph) are possible Friday night into early Saturday (local time)," stated Sagliani. "Rainfall will be on the order of 100 to 200 mm (4 to 8 inches)."
The mountainous terrain of Taiwan will cause Soudelor to weaken, but it should still be a minimal typhoon when it leaves the island and takes aim at China later Saturday.
"Landfall [in China] is likely in Fujian Province," added Sagliani, "with wind gusts possibly near 120 kph (75 mph) in this region as well." This includes in the city of Quanzhou.
In addition to these winds that will damage some structures and trees and lead to power outages, widespread flooding will also result with rainfall in excess of 200 mm (8 inches) expected. Rain totals will top 300 mm (a foot) in the higher terrain.
Interaction with land will gradually cause Soudelor to weaken to a tropical storm later this weekend, then a tropical rainstorm early next week. As Soudelor weakens, the damaging wind threat will lessen but the risk of flooding rain will be slower to follow suit.
"Isolated damaging winds will still be possible in Jiangxi, Zhejiang, Anhui and Jiangsu provinces," stated AccuWeather Meteorologist Eric Leister.
Widespread rain amounts topping 100 mm (4 inches) will occur northeastward to Taizhou and northward to near Hefei, leading to flash flooding and mudslides in the higher terrain.
The heaviest rain will bypass both Hong Kong and Shanghai. Hong Kong will remain on the dry and warm side of the storm through this weekend, but moisture wrapping into the storm early next week could lead to a heavy thunderstorm.
The outermost rain bands of Soudelor will also graze Shanghai during the second half of this weekend. While widespread issues are not expected, localized flash flooding cannot be ruled out.
After impacting eastern China through early next week, Soudelor may then join with a non-tropical system to spread heavy rain into South Korea and potentially a part of Japan.
Prior to targeting Taiwan and China, the center of Soudelor passed directly over the island of Saipan to the north of Guam with Category 2 hurricane-force winds on Sunday night.
Winds to near 170 kph (105 mph) were reported on Saipan as the eyewall of Soudelor passed over the island. Guam to the south was largely spared any damaging winds as gusts reached 50-65 kph (30-40 mph) for several hours.
Soudelor rapidly intensified on Monday after departing Saipan, becoming a super typhoon and reaching the equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane in the Atlantic or Eastern Pacific basins. Soudelor reached peak intensity late Monday with winds near 290 kph (180 mph) making it the strongest tropical cyclone anywhere on the planet so far this year.