Super Typhoon Rammasun slammed onto shore in southeast China this morning, bringing extreme wind, torrential rain, and causing dangerous landslides to a population of millions. The eye wall of the typhoon made landfall at 3:30 pm local time in China’s Hainan Province. Clocking sustained winds of 155 mph and gusts up to 175 mph, Rammasun is now one of the strongest typhoons to make landfall in mainland China on record.
The typhoon has weakened slightly after landfall, according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, but nonetheless remains a dangerous storm. The China Meteorological Administration issued its first “red” weather warning of the year as the dangerous typhoon approached.
After a period of weakening as it passed through the Philippines earlier this week, Rammasun (which means “thunder of god”) began to rapidly re-intensify over the warm waters of the South China Sea, and fears of a disaster in China began to build. The Joint Typhoon Warning Center upgraded the storm to a super typhoon, with winds greater than 150 mph, early on Friday.
— Eric Holthaus (@EricHolthaus) July 18, 2014
Wind speeds gusted above 100 mph in Haikou City in Hainan, which took a direct hit from Rammasun’s eye wall. The city, populated by over 2 million people, has also received 7 inches of rain on Friday, which CNN International’s Brandon Miller says is a month’s worth of rain in 6 hours.
— Brandon Miller (@BrandonCNN) July 18, 2014
While the heaviest rainfall was on the south side of the eye wall, the proximity of the Leizhou peninsula north of Hainan Island in the province of Guangdong put it at risk for extremely high storm surge. The National Marine Environmental Forecasting Center in China was predicting storm surges of 20 feet in the coastal areas of the province. Strong winds from the east would have pushed an enormous amount of water into the various bays and inlets along the peninsula. This area will likely have seen the worst of Typhoon Rammasun when it’s all over.
Xinhua news agency said Rammasun was believed to be the strongest typhoon to strike the Hainan Province in 41 years.
China Central Television is reporting that at least 70,000 people were evacuated from the landfall area, and the Hainan Daily is reporting that at least one man has died when he returned to his home after the evacuation order.
It may be days before the storm’s toll on life and property can be fully assessed.
Rammasun is forecast to decrease in intensity as it moves northwest toward the border of northern Vietnam and southern China, but it will remain a dangerous, category 3 typhoon with sustained winds of 125 mph.