Super Typhoon Meranti is a monster, spinning just a couple hundred miles south of Taiwan. Meranti’s sustained winds are 185 mph, which makes it the strongest storm anywhere on Earth so far in 2016.

As of Tuesday morning, it had been at that intensity for 18 hours. Capital Weather Gang tropical expert Phil Klotzbach says that only two other typhoons in this region have accomplished that — Typhoon Tip and Typhoon Haiyan.

Meranti’s pressure has dropped to 890 millibars, which, as Jeff Masters writes at Weather Underground, makes the typhoon even more impressive. “This puts Meranti in the elite pantheon of the deepest tropical cyclones ever recorded anywhere on Earth,” Masters says. “Several others have had 890 mb central pressure, but only a few have dipped below that mark, including 3 hurricanes in the Atlantic and 13 typhoons in the Northwest Pacific.”

Meranti is forecast to remain a dangerous Category 5 with sustained winds over 180 mph as it passes just south of Taiwan. Even without a direct landfall, the super typhoon will rock the capital, Taipei. Taiwan’s mountains will obstruct the winds, but Meranti’s eye will stay over very warm water and weakening will be minimal, if at all. Damaging winds and storm surge are likely along the southern coast of Taiwan. Heavy rainfall will lead to mudslides.

It's currently the strongest tropical storm of the year, bringing powerful sustained gusts of wind up to 185 mph. (Jenny Starrs/The Washington Post)

In the coming hours, Meranti will continue toward China. Forecast models seem to be honing in on the coast north of Hong Kong, but the city is still at risk if the storm shifts south. As of Tuesday, Meranti was expected to make landfall in China somewhere between Shantou and Xiamen as the equivalent of a Category 4 hurricane.

Satellites captured the incredible strengthening of Meranti from the equivalent of a Category 1 to a Category 5 hurricane in just 36 hours.

Super Typhoon Melanti shares the West Pacific with the much-weaker Tropical Storm Malakas.

The structure of Melanti is textbook — everything we’d expect of an intense tropical cyclone.

NASA’s polar-orbiting satellite has been sending back incredibly detailed imagery of the typhoon. The white, black and pink shades in the center of the storm indicate its tallest clouds and thus its strongest winds and heaviest rain.

This super typhoon is huge. The outer cloud structure of Melanti stretches from southern Japan to the southern Philippines.