Supertyphoon Soudelor has rapidly strengthened into a Category 5 storm in the northwest Pacific, with peak sustained wind speeds of 180 m.p.h., the Weather Channel reports. That makes it the strongest tropical cyclone recorded this year.
On Sunday, Soudelor, which made landfall as a Category 2 storm, slammed into the Northern Mariana Islands, causing “extensive” damage on Saipan. The storm brought down power lines, toppled roofs and flooded the island’s power plant. Hundreds of Saipan’s residents sought shelter until Monday afternoon.
Saipan’s acting governor Ralph D.L.G. Torres declared “a state of disaster and significant emergency” for the island, reports the Pacific Daily News.
According to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, the supertyphoon is expected to continue on its path northwestward across the Pacific Ocean over the next few days but will weaken as it nears Taiwan, China and Japan’s southwestern Ryukyu islands by Friday.
The name Soudelor comes from the Federated States of Micronesia and is a Pohnpeaian word for a legendary chief or ruler.